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

Gregory Wakeman

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.

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

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.

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."

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]