‘Rogue One’ Visual Effects Guru Defends Using Technology To Bring Back Dead Actor

Warning: There are some SPOILERS ahead for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. So if you’ve not seen the blockbuster then you should proceed cautiously.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story not only introduced a brand new posse of characters for the franchise led by Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as Cassian Andor but at the same time, it also saw the surprising return of characters from the series’ distant past, too, which included Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin.

Since Peter Cushing died in 1994, Industrial Light & Magic used special effects, as well as physical performance from actor Guy Henry, to create a digital likeness of Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin. While the visual effects themselves have been praised, its usage has sparked a debate over whether or not they should have been used at all.

[Image by Lucasfilm]

Speaking to the New York Times John Knoll, who isn’t just the chief creative officer over at Industrial Light & Magic but was a visual effects supervisor on Rogue One and shared a story credit alongside Gary Whitta on the film, too, has defended the special effects in the standalone blockbuster. Not only did he insist that they were incorporated to aid the story, but he also denied speculation that we could see the return of more actors that have been dead for years in future Hollywood films, too. John Knoll explained.

“I don’t imagine that happening. This was done for very solid and defendable story reasons. This is a character that is very important to telling this kind of story. It is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner. We’re not planning on doing this digital re-creation extensively from now on. It just made sense for this particular movie.”

John Knoll admitted that discussions were held about how else they could bring Grand Moff Tarkin back for Rogue One, as he remarked.

“We did talk about Tarkin participating in conversations via hologram, or transferring that dialogue to other characters.”

But Kiri Hart, who is a story development executive over at Lucasfilm and a co-producer on Rogue One, told the New York Times that they really had no option but to incorporate Grand Moff Tarkin into the blockbuster in as realistic a fashion as possible because it wouldn’t have made sense if he wasn’t in the story. Kiri Hart explained, “If he’s not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie.”

Kiri Hart also discussed the decision to use technology to incorporate a digital likeness of 19-year-old Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa into the film, too. She insisted that you needed to see Leia Organa’s face right at the end of Rogue One to make the conclusion impactful.

[Image by Lucasfilm]

Kiri Hart explained.

“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.”

On the afternoon of Tuesday, December 27, the world was shocked and saddened to learn that Carrie Fisher had died at the age of 60. On December 23, Carrie Fisher had gone into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She battled valiantly for the following four days, but was pronounced dead at 8:55 am.

In her book Wishful Drinking Carrie Fisher detailed how she wanted her death to be reported, writing, via Vanity Fair, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by own bra.”

Carrie Fisher is survived by her daughter 24-year-old Bille Lourd, mother Debbie Reynolds, brother Todd Fisher, and half-sisters Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher.

[Featured Image by Lucasfilm]

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