Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has made waves this past month. This is partially due to its incredible success in the box office, but also because of its choice to include digital actors. One of these, Grand Moff Tarkin, appears exactly as he did in the 1977 original. This is possible despite the fact that the original actor, Peter Cushing, has been dead for nearly 23 years. The other digital appearance comes in the form of the 19-year-old Princess Leia, who was once played by the recently deceased Carrie Fisher.
While a number of classic Star Wars veterans weighed in on their opinions of Rogue One, we never got the chance to hear the opinion of Carrie Fisher. Fortunately, we now know that even if she didn’t get the chance to see the full movie, she enjoyed seeing her character’s cameo in it.
In a recent Nightline special, Lucasfilm’s chief creative officer, and senior visual effects guru, John Knoll, talked about the challenges of creating digital actors. In an extended follow-up post on ABC, he discussed Carrie Fisher’s reception to her cameo in greater detail.
“She was involved in the process and, you know, she saw the final result and she loved it. She got to see the scene. [Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm] showed it to her. So, I got a call afterwards from Kathy saying, ‘Well, Carrie loved it.'”
Carrie Fisher had reprised her role as an aged Leia for Episode VII: The Force Awakens and had finished filming for her role in Episode VIII at the time of her death. She stated in an interview that she had mixed feelings about seeing herself in that state, though Fisher seemed to maintain a wry sense of humor about it. “I got older, and no one told me,” she said. “And then they put me on a screen – really really big – and they put me in high def!”
Part of the reason for concern about digital acting is that performances can be delivered that aren’t in the spirit of the original actors’ values, despite permission being granted by their estate. At least in the case of Princess Leia’s Rogue One appearance, we know that Fisher took joy in seeing her young self-return to the screen one last time. With the creators of Episode IX currently discussing how to fill the hole left by Fisher’s absence, we can only hope that they’ll find a solution she would be similarly pleased with.