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Warning: Minor Rogue One spoilers will be revealed in this article. You've been warned.
One of the many great things about Star Wars is the iconic characters. It's a universe filled up with all manner of interesting people to love, whether they be Han Solo or more Max Rebo-sized in importance. Being set before A New Hope meant that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had access to prime Star Wars territory and would no doubt have some classic cameos. While some in the movie or more obvious than others, the biggest character by far had to be the return of Grand Moff Tarkin.
Going by the Star Wars chronology, Rogue One takes place before the events of 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope. To better connect the two films that are separated by 39 years real world time, characters from the original film made appearances in Rogue One. Chief among them was the Peter Cushing's villainous Grand Moff Tarkin, the man in charge of the Death Star. This presented its own form of challenges, because Cushing passed away in 1994. Instead of re-casting the role, director Gareth Edwards and crew decided to use CG technology to animate his features onto another actor. This comes with its own level of controversy ,and Edwards chatted with IGN about how the decision was made.
We were all very nervous about it and kind of, 'Can we do this? Is this crazy? Because we can't get it wrong. It has to be spot on.' And John Knoll, who pitched the original idea to [producer Kathleen Kennedy] and is also one of the geniuses at ILM was like, 'No, no, no. We can do this, and it will be a milestone.' So they spent a long time doing that.
Seeing as how it'd be pretty hard to have a movie prominently featuring the Death Star without Tarkin, it makes sense that Disney and Lucasfilm wanted to find a way to include the character. British actor Guy Henry was brought in to play Tarkin on set, and then the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic got to work recreating Peter Cushing's likeness and inserting on to Henry's performance. The result is an incredible display, if also a little off-putting due to the CG falling into the Uncanny Valley.
While we can debate over whether this technology should be used to essentially resurrect the dead, Grand Moff Tarkin has several cool bits in the movie, and he's as Tarkin-y as ever. It never gets old watching him snidely lording his superiority over everyone around him. You can see him appear in several scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, out in theaters right now.