Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Actors Detail How To Speak The Wookiee Language

Contrary to what casual moviegoers might assume, the tongue trills and guttural growls Chewbacca makes aren't just random sounds. They make up an actual language in the Star Wars canon: Shyriiwook, the language used by Wookiees (like Chewbacca). Many franchise fans have imitated Chewie's roars, but none have fully mastered the language. Solo: A Star Wars Story actors Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo are here to change that.

The two stars, who play Han Solo and Chewbacca, respectively, sat down with Entertainment Weekly to explain how to speak the Wookiee language. 

In Solo, there's a scene in which Ehrenreich's Han and Suotamo's Chewie speak exclusively in Shyriiwook. As the cameras were rolling, Ehrenreich had to ensure he repeated the exact same noises when delivering English lines to Suotamo, who spoke all of his dialogue in English using a "yawning/roaring accent" that was dubbed over in post-production with a specially designed amalgamation of animal sounds.

"The things that are subtitled, there's things that I repeat, so we had to make sure that when I repeat an English word, it's the same Shyriiwook word that I'm repeating," Ehrenreich stated. "Besides that, I'm just going [Chewie warble sounds]. Joonas taught me sort of these deep-cut Wookiee things, like that you have to break the noise at the beginning." 

Suotamo also taught Ehrenreich the iconic Wookiee chuckle, which is a blend of huffs and light snorts that Suotamo learned from watching The Empire Strikes Back. Thankfully for Suotamo, Ehrenreich was an eager student and picked things up quickly: "Alden, he came in and he was so prepared. He was really into finding out some different ways ... for him to speak that Wookiee language, Shyriiwook, and it was amazing the amount of time he put into [it]."

Ehrenreich added that Suotamo "always does some version of the line with the noise," and even included a few swear words here and there. "There's probably a great version of the movie where they just leave all those things in ... There's a lot of swear words." And according to Suotamo, one swear in particular wasn't clipped from the final cut of Solo until the very last moments, when the editors got their hands on a bear sound and covered over it. "I was devastated," Suotamo laughed. "They should have stopped looking and just left it in there."

Off that funny anecdote, Ehrenreich commended Suotamo for the incredible work he put into not only speaking the Wookiee language, but also bringing Chewbacca to life on the big screen. "Joonas has to do an unbelievable amount of stuff. It's not just wearing the suit. He has to move in a very particular way. He has to understand how a Wookiee's thinking," the actor said. "And there's not a lot of ways to communicate, but I think Joonas has brought a lot of heart to it and just does a really impressive job. More than people can even totally understand."

Just as Suotamo thanked Ehrenreich for his kind words, Ehrenreich laughed that he was "lying." 

Fans can catch the pair, who clearly get along incredibly well behind the scenes, showing off their Shyriiwook skills in Solo: A Star Wars Story when it flies into theaters on May 25.