Report: Rogue One to Feature Digitally Recreated Tarkin


Grand Moff Tarkin may have put too much trust into Imperial technology like the Death Star, which ultimately led to his death. But now some other futuristic tech may in fact bring him back to life.

According to the Daily Mail, the former Imperial military commander will be making an appearance in the newly renamed Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But he won’t be portrayed by a younger lookalike.

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The report says that we will see Peter Cushing, who played the Moff in A New Hope, back in the role thanks to advanced CGI techniques. Cushing died of prostate cancer in 1994 at age 81, but this article claims the filmmakers will resurrect his body digitally for Gareth Edwards’ movie.

Here’s what the Daily Mail, which is citing an unnamed “source,” had to say:

"“This is one of the most complex and costly CGI re-creations ever. Cushing is a pivotal plot line as he was the one to create Darth Vader and there’s a whole back story that will come out.”"

If that wasn’t odd enough, the article goes into a bit of detail about one of the challenges with creating an entirely virtual rendering of Cushing: recreating his bottom half.

It’s a well-known Star Wars story that Cushing constantly complained to George Lucas on the set of A New Hope about the stiff military boots he had to wear for the role. So Lucas finally relented and allowed Cushing to wear slippers while performing and simply shot him from the waist-up.

According to this rumor, the visual effects team of Rogue One is now combing through Peter Cushing’s prolific output, specifically the horror movies he was most famous for before landing the role in Episode IV.

That’s such an odd anecdote to include when reporting this rumor that it makes the whole affair ring slightly false. I understand the importance of nailing Cushing’s pace and posture when he played Tarkin, but he definitely moves about in A New Hope, even if we can’t always see his bottom half, so it can’t be that hard. I was always under the impression that the face is usually the toughest part of a person or creature to replicate in a computer.

While this solution isn’t completely without precedent, I’m not sure it makes complete sense. Digital recreation technology has been used to complete actors’ performances before, most recently for Paul Walker in Furious Seven, when the actor died before his scenes could be completed. The Hunger Games: MockingJay – Part 2 will also be doing the same thing for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and his character.

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But those were cases of actors beginning a role and tragically being unable to finish it. To me, Rogue One represents different circumstances. Just because it’s set in the same era as the film in which Cushing appeared, doesn’t mean we have to have his presence there. Why not cast a younger actor who can forge his own path for the character while paying tribute to Cushing’s portrayal?

That’s exactly what Ewan McGregor did with his performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels. We didn’t need to see Alec Guinness twirling around with a lightsaber thanks to CGI technology. He left enough of an impression in his original performance for it to influence how his successor took on the role.

I hope this rumor doesn’t turn out to be true, as it smacks of the wrong way to approach the material. Cushing’s cold, smug portrayal of Tarkin will stand the test of time and doesn’t need to be reproduced again. Let’s hope the filmmakers understand that.

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