Rogue One animators on that character: ‘Realism had to trump likeness’


Rogue One, the recently released Star Wars prequel, has tons of ties to the original films in the form of returning characters. Some, such as Mon Mothma or General Dodonn, were simply replaced by lookalikes. Others — like the brief cameos from Bail Organa or C-3P0 — simply featured the original actors, or in the case of Red and Gold Leaders, used archival footage cut from A New Hope. But the digital appearances in the film by Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarken and Carrie Fisher’s young Princess Leia through CGI re-creations have been a point of contention for fans in the discussion surrounding the film since its release.

In an interview with The New York Times, several of the lead producers and animators for Rogue One spoke about their reasoning for why they felt the digital re-creation needed to be in the movie along with some details as to how the effect was actually accomplished.

Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm, The New York Times

According to Industrial Light & Magic chief creative officer John Knoll, the process of resurrecting Tarkin requires the use of actor Guy Henry as a replacement. Henry performed an imitation of Cushing’s distinctive performance for the film in full motion-capture headgear, which then allowed for his head to be digitally replaced with that of Cushing in what Knoll describes as “a super high-tech and labor-intensive version of doing makeup.” If the CGI didn’t…