"Chewie's doing all right. It's tough," writer and director Rian Johnson told EW. "It was obviously a big loss for him, but, you know, he's Chewie. He's resilient," Johnson said of the big walking carpet, who will be "a little more volatile than usual."
"He's got broad Wookie shoulders, and he also has a new mission. He's got Rey, and she's someone that Han, to a certain extent, handed the keys to. So I think that helps," Johnson said of the Jakku scavenger-turned-heroine-turned-Jedi trainee, played by Daisy Ridley.
"If Chewie was just unemployed and sitting at home, things might be a little rougher, but he's got a task to focus on," Johnson added.
Chewbacca and General Leia (Carrie Fisher) both suffered a major blow when Han and Leia's son, the corrupted Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), killed his father in a calculated move to further envelop himself in the Dark side of the Force. Chewbacca fired on Kylo in rage, landing a midsection blow with his powerful bowcaster.
It will be interesting to see what happens when (if?) Chewbacca and Kylo next cross paths — and, hopefully, Han's best friend and Han's wife will get to spend some time together come The Last Jedi. When Leia and Chewbacca didn't embrace following the heroes' return to the Resistance base at the end of The Force Awakens, fans wanted an explanation for Leia's supposed snub towards Chewbacca:
"That was probably one of the mistakes I made in that," director J.J. Abrams said in 2016. "My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of. So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey of course would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss."
The supposed slight, as perceived by some, was more an error in blocking. "Had Chewbacca not been where he was, you probably wouldn't have thought of it," Abrams said. "But because he was right there, passed by Leia, it felt almost like a slight, which was definitely not the intention."
Suotamo will also portray a slightly younger Chewbacca in the Untitled Han Solo Movie, buddy to the similarly younger Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). That film drops May 25th, 2018, while Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15th.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second film in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy that began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. The film will deal with Luke training Rey to become a, and possibly the last, Jedi. Meanwhile, the Resistance, including Poe Dameron and First Order defector Finn, continues to fight against the First Order, led by General Hux, while Supreme Leader Snoke and his Dark Side follower Kylo Ren continue their mysterious plot. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran.