There was a fun bit of casting news for The Acolyte revealed at the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase panel at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, as it was announced that Joonas Suotamo will be playing a Wookiee Jedi Master named Kelnacca!
We don’t really know anything about Kelnacca, but we do know that showrunner Leslye Headland was inspired by another Wookiee Jedi in the High Republic era, Burryaga, and decided that with the precedent already established she wanted a Wookiee Jedi in this series. The Acolyte is set in the last stages of the High Republic era, and prior to the events of the Skywalker Saga, and it is a show that focuses on the dark side of things and explores the Jedi in deeper, more complex ways. Headland wants to tell a story about how the Jedi went from the shining beacons of light they were during the High Republic era to an Order that had largely lost their way and their focus by the time of The Phantom Menace, as George Lucas explored throughout the prequel trilogy.
While there’s not anything really known about Kelnacca, though, the actor bringing him to life is quite familiar with Star Wars and already known by fans. Joonas Suotamo took over the iconic role of Chewbacca from the legendary Peter Mayhew for the sequel trilogy, beginning with The Force Awakens, when both Suotamo and Mayhew portrayed the character. He then played Chewie again in The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Rise of Skywalker. Just last year, he played the menacing-looking villain Scourge in the Willow series for Disney+, staying in the Lucasfilm family. He’s now jumping back into Star Wars with The Acolyte, and he’ll make good use of his vast experience knowing how to bring a Wookiee to life.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said when asked about it on the Star Wars Celebration Live! stage. “The concept of this character coming in, it fascinated me and I knew that people were gonna be excited when they heard about this whole show, and then when they heard about this character. I just knew that it was something special brewing here, and Kelnacca is a Wookiee Jedi, and I can’t wait for you guys to see, because I wanted it to be different from Chewbacca. And so ways to differentiate between those two characters was an interesting challenge. And that’s what I tried to do, and I hope that I did an ok job.”
It’s awesome to see Suotamo return, and it was announced at the same panel as the reveal that Daisy Ridley is returning to the franchise too. That makes two stars from the sequel trilogy coming back, and they even shared a brief reunion at Celebration: