Although Rogue One was ostensibly about a set of completely new heroes in the Star Wars story, the first ever standalone in the franchise wasn't light on returning faces. Alongside the much-publicized returns of Darth Vader, Mon Mothma and Bail Organa (as well as a CGI Tarkin and Princess Leia), there were a host of surprise appearances by characters from across the galaxy.
One of the most effective, and definitely surprising, was the return of Red and Gold Leader, who appeared as part of the Rebel attempt to take down the shield gate during the space battle finale. While the methods used to recreated 1977-era Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher were pretty obvious - short answer: mo-cap and computers - how this worked was a bit more intriguing. It was revealed shortly after release that Gareth Edwards and his team found unused takes of the actors from the original film and digitally restored them, but now Angus MacInnes, who played Gold Leader, has spoken about the experience.
Jamie Stangroom, an intrepid fan who's tracked down many of the actors behind obscure Star Wars characters over the past year or so, decided to get to the bottom of the mystery and had a Skype interview with MacInnes in which the actor discussed the process of being put in a film 40 years after making it, which involved approving the use of the footage and re-recording dialogue:
"They contacted me sometime in early October and said they wanted to use the footage, and could they? And I said, "Well yeah." Then they asked me to re-voice it. So I went into the studio here [in London] and re-voiced – we did a video link with San Francisco. We re-recorded the dialogue for the sequence. Just little tweaks here and there – but it was important to change it, because obviously you couldn’t use the same dialogue at Yavin as you could with this sequence.”
Compared to Tarkin or Leia this may not seem that arduous a task, but it's great to hear that the production went to the effort to get MacInnes back and redo the lines (sadly Drewe Henley, who played Red Leader, died earlier in 2016 and thus only direct footage was used). It's also great that they actually had him provide some contextual Scarif dialogue - those changes he talks about refer to Gold Leader's announcement of beginning his attack run on the shield gate, which was obviously a new concept for Rogue One.
The conversation also hints at the behind-the-scenes motivations for the addition; that the actor was approached in October, just two months before the film was released, would suggest that the Red and Gold Leader footage was a last minute addition. This matches the theory that the massive space battle that caps off the film was a result of the creative decision that led to the highly publicised reshoots.
MacInnes also talked about the digital resurrection of Cushing, which he described as "kind of eerie, really bizarre." However, when asked if he had any objections to a similar process being applied to him, he seemed game, saying, "I don't see why not. Movies are about fooling people into believing there's a reality going on and it's all about how well you do that and it's irrelevant if you're actually there."
Source: Jamie Stangroom
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019