Star Wars Bits: The 40th Anniversary Of 'Star Wars,' The New Chewbacca Actor, And The Larger Role Of Thrawn

In this edition of Star Wars Bits:

  • Star Wars Celebration will celebrate the saga's 40th anniversary with a new panel.
  • On that new Star Wars: Episode 9 rumor...
  • New Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo pays tribute to Peter Mayhew.
  • Samuel L. Jackson is happy to return as Mace Windu, should it be necessary.
  • Does Grand Admiral Thrawn have a larger role to play?
  • An old villain is coming back to Star Wars Rebels.
  • I'll never forgive Paramount and CBS for not taking full advantage of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, but it looks like Disney and Lucasfilm won't be making the same mistake with Star Wars' 40th anniversary. This year's Star Wars Celebration will kick off with a special panel dedicated to this milestone and has provided the details:

    The Star Wars 40th anniversary panel, hosted by Warwick Davis and set for Thursday, April 13, will feature Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and discussions with some of the saga's brightest stars. It promises to highlight the impact of the galaxy far, far away and the fandom that has propelled it for the last four decades; this marquee Celebration event will undoubtedly include many not-to-be-missed surprises. So set hyperspace coordinates accordingly...

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn't out until December and the untitled Han Solo movie just started filming, but could cameras begin rolling on Star Wars: Episode 9 this summer? That's the current rumor rolling over the internet. However, Star Wars News Net claims that the information is false (as seen in the tweet above), so let's hold our horses for now.

    For the first time since 1977, Peter Mayhew will not play Chewbacca in a Star Wars movie. Finnish basketball player-turned-actor Joonas Suotamo is taking over the role in the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie, having pulled double duty with Mayhew on The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Unfortunately, Mayhew's health issues have made playing the mighty Wookiee a challenge. Fortunately, the 6' 10" Suotamo seems to be up for task, paying tribute to the character and to Mayhew on social media.

    While we're talking about recasting Star Wars characters, Samuel L. Jackson told IGN that there is no need to recast Mace Windu, whom he insists could have survived his "death" in Revenge of the Sith. In fact, he says that there's no need to digitally recreate him like Tarkin in Rogue One – he's ready and willing to return to the part. Since Jackson is looking as ageless as ever these days, why the heck not?

    Star Wars Rebels Thrawn

    In Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy of novels, Grand Admiral Thrawn returns years after the defeat of the Empire to wage war on the New Republic. Those novels, beloved by fans, were stripped out of the canon a few years ago with the rest of the "legends," but it looks like a few elements may have survived. ScreenRant notes that Chuck Wendig's new novel Star Wars: Aftermath – Empire's End mentions that Emperor Palpatine's plan to explore the fringes of the galaxy (which you can read about here) involved the assistance of Thrawn:

    ...Palpatine had one in the navy who knew something of the Unknown Regions: Admiral Thrawn, an alien with ice-blue skin who came from beyond the borders of the known galaxy. Palpatine only kept that one around because of what he knew of traversing those deadly interstices. Much of what Thrawn knew went into the computations of this machine.

    Between this, Thrawn playing a major role in Star Wars Rebels and ScreenRant's suggestion that the blue-skinned villain escaped the final battle between the Rebels and the Empire, it sounds like the cunning Grand Admiral survived the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War and may have a role to play.

    aftermath 3 cover

    For more Empire's End news, you can look to's interview with author Chuck Wendig, who discusses everything from the importance of Jakku to Han and Leia's relationship.

    Wullf Yularen, who began as a background character in the original Star Wars and was slowly fleshed out over the years (including as a supporting character on Star Wars: The Clone Wars) is set to appear on Star Wars Rebels, where he look much like he did in the 1977 film. You can see him in the new clip above. Of course, we all know where he ends up: blown to pieces in the destruction of the first Death Star.