ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

The inclusion of a computer-resurrected Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, some years after actor Peter Cushing passed away, sparked a debate over the ethics of using modern technology to bring back an actor after his or her death.

One of the pertinent questions surrounding the inclusion of the character — who originally appeared in A New Hope (1977) and was played for motion capture by Guy Henry — is whether the appearance was in bad taste; after all, Tarkin isn't only glimpsed at in the same manner as a young Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), but has an integral role in the story.

There's no doubt, for a film of 's magnitude, that the screen-time given CGI-Cushing was a huge risk. In an interview with io9, John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light and Magic and one of the film's producers, discussed the process of going ahead with Tarkin's inclusion. He said:

"Some of it was my just asserting that, 'No no no, let’s not pull the [plug] on this, we’re going to get there, this is going to work.' But ultimately the decision was Kathy’s [Kathleen Kennedy] whether she thought it was working well enough to stay close up, full screen, for a duration."

It's unsurprising Kennedy had the final say, given her significant input to the direction of the franchise as President of Lucasfilm. If Kennedy wasn't happy with the final product, there were back-up plans, due to the importance of Tarkin within the joined-up narrative between Rogue One and A New Hope.

Cushing's Tarkin with Princess Leia and Darth Vader in 'A New Hope' [Credit: Lucasfilm]
Cushing's Tarkin with Princess Leia and Darth Vader in 'A New Hope' [Credit: Lucasfilm]

Those plans included creating a hologram version of Tarkin, which would've worked well in obscuring the finer details, or even removing him completely, and transferring some of his dialogue to different characters. Instead, Kennedy opted to go forward with the final, in-depth version.

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Despite the controversial addition to Rogue One, the film has been performing exceptionally well, with a current worldwide total of $914.4m at the box office making it the 12th most lucrative film of all-time, as well as the second-highest grossing domestic movie after The Force Awakens.

Has 'Rogue One' Opened The CGI Floodgates?

Carrie Fisher in 'The Force Awakens' [Credit: Disney]
Carrie Fisher in 'The Force Awakens' [Credit: Disney]

One of the criticisms of the decision to include Cushing in CGI format is the concern that it may open the floodgates in Hollywood, giving the green-light for actor's to be digitally reconstructed long after death.

That concern is more pertinent than ever following the tragic death of in December last year. Fisher was confirmed as having an integral role in Star Wars 8, with even more input than in The Force Awakens, and a growing presence into Star Wars 9.

While filming was complete on , the question remains whether Lucasfilm will take the same approach to Rogue One and include Princess Leia in digital form. Considering the kind of money at stake, it'll be a tricky decision for Lucasfilm to make.

Do you agree with the inclusion of Peter Cushing in CGI form in Rogue One?

(Source: io9, The New York Times)


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