It’s safe to say that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a success. As its own standalone installment to the franchise that primarily revolved around characters we’d never met before, there was an inherent risk to releasing the blockbuster.
But after grossing over $1 billion at the box office, and after being met with superlative reviews, as well as scoring 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Rogue One proved to be a risk well worth taking. It wasn’t completely void of problems, though.
In fact, some Rogue One fans had an issue with one of the most rousing moments of the film. That’s because, while they were overjoyed to see Princess Leia return to the big-screen, courtesy of a digital likeness of Carrie Fisher as the character that was injected into the film, fans were left scratching their heads and wondering why she was so close to the Battle Of Scarif anyway. Especially because her ship the Tantaive IV was a non-military spacecraft that really didn’t have any business being so close to the war zone.
Thankfully, Pablo Hidalgo, who is an all-round Star Wars genius and works at Lucasfilm as the Story Group maestro, was able to answer this question during his appearance on the YouTube series The Star Wars show. Hidalgo explained,
“The plan was always that Leia was going to go to Tatooine to pick up Obi-Wan and Raddus was going to escort her. Then the news of Scarif came in, and that was deemed more important… [because] it’s the one warship that they have at this point.”
While Princess Leia’s appearance right at the end of Rogue One was one of the most rousing parts of the film, it wasn’t without its controversy. Dozens of think pieces were written and questions raised about whether Lucasfilm should have brought Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, back for Rogue One. However Kiri Hart, a Lucasfilm story development executive and Rogue One co-producer, told the New York Times around the time of its release that it was integral to the film. Kiri Hart insisted that it allowed Rogue One,
“To deliver on that moment of hopefulness, that is really underscored by the fact that you do get to see her face… That’s the best possible use of effects, to enhance the meaning and the emotion of the experience for the viewer.”
It also turned out that Carrie Fisher was involved throughout the entire process of recreating her likeness as a 19-year-old for Rogue One. When she finally saw the character integrated into the film, she was ecstatic with the results, too. That’s according to Lucasfilm’s chief creative officer and special effects guru John Knoll anyway, who recently recalled Fisher’s reaction to the scene to ABC’s Nightline.
John Knoll insisted,
“She was involved in the process and, you know, she saw the final result and she loved it. She got to see the scene. [Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm] showed it to her. So, I got a call afterwards from Kathy saying, ‘Well, Carrie loved it.'”
Of course, the sudden and shocking death of Carrie Fisher at the age of 60 on December 27 immediately meant that Princess Leia’s return in Rogue One was seen and appreciated in a completely new light. Because of Rogue One‘s sterling and seamless use of CGI in bringing Carrie Fisher back to the big-screen as a 19-year-old, there were immediately rumors that Princess Leia would still be able to feature in future Star Wars films.
However, Lucasfilm was quick to deny such speculation, even taking to the official Star Wars website to release a statement on the matter. This statement read,
“We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumour circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa. Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honour everything she gave to Star Wars.”
[Featured Image by Lucasfilm]