Whatever you may think of the result, the effects wizardry that brought Peter Cushing back as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is ambitious and pioneering work. Thanks to a behind-the-scenes segment of ABC's Nightline and rumblings about the future of the Star Wars franchise following the death of Carrie Fisher, we have some updates on how that wizardry was achieved and how it might prove to be necessary -- presumably with some improvements -- going forward.
There are Rogue One and Star Wars: The Force Awakens SPOILERS below.
How Rogue One Brought Back Tarkin and Young Leia
If you've seen the movie, you know Cushing wasn't the only digitial resurrection in Rogue One. In the Nightline story, Industrial Light & Magic CCO John Knoll (who also came up with the idea for the new movie) presents footage of how they turned actor Guy Henry into a digital version of Cushing using performance capture, Henry's ongoing study of Cushing roles (his young Sherlock Holmes for a 1982 British TV miniseries was modeled on Cushing's 1960s portrayal of the character) and the lucky find of an old facial molding of Cushing used for 1984's Top Secret!
They also address of the young Princess Leia cameo, partly played by actress Ingvild Deila and with the blessing of Fisher. Watch the video below (via /Film) for more.
ILM Apparently Made a Test Video Recreating a Scene from Star Wars
There's not a direct acknowledgement in the Nightline segment, but the site Making Star Wars points out footage in the video in which Henry's Tarkin is on screen with Leia, a redo of their scene together in the original movie. Presumably this was test footage created to show the effects work used for a familiar moment. We only see the back of Leia's head here, however, so it's not clear how far into that scene the test went. The other question is will that test be made available in its entirety on the Rogue One home video release. We hope so. Check out a still from the footage below and head to Making Star Wars for a gallery of more screencaps.
Leia Could Be a Fully Digital Character in Star Wars: Episode IX
According to Dark Horizons, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and others will be meeting this month to discuss the future of the Star Wars franchise. There was already a plan to talk about the Rogue One reshoots, the changes made through the development of Episode VIII and Episode IX and beyond, but now they'll also need to consider what to do about Fisher's death. It turns out that while she completed her scenes for VIII she was also supposed to be a big part of IX.
We've heard the character reunites with Luke, probably in the former sequel, and then she's also meant to confront her son, Ben (aka Kylo Ren), partly in response to his kiling of his father, Han Solo. Whatever additional scenes she was to have in the Star Wars Saga, they and could be reworked and she could be written out of the story somehow. Or the other option is to feature a CG version of General Leia in the movie using the same but likely improved technology used for Rogue One.
Right now the idea of doing a digital Leia sounds terrible, as we're all still mourning the actress. But Episode IX, which won't begin shooting until late this year, won't hit theaters until 2019. That could be enough time to get over the idea. Maybe.
Fans Are Lobbying to Make Leia an Official Disney Princess
Meanwhile, Star Wars fans have a new hope that Disney might officially label Leia an official Disney Princess, as part of that brand. This has been something joked about and suggested in the past, but now the notion is to honor the memory of Fisher, including in the request an induction ceremony that would recognize the actress and character as one. There's currently a petition in support of the campaign at Change.org with a goal of 50,000 signatures.