Is Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?

by Lucas Siegel

When you're talking about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the conversation inevitably turns to the villians. How much will Darth Vader be in it? What's the deal with Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn)? Likewise, when you look at Director Krennic, a high-level Imperial who talks about the power of the Death Star with fervor, it's hard not to be reminded of another from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, and that is Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.

So, is Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One? Fans thought they spotted the back of his head earlier in another trailer, on the command deck of the Death Star, but in the new "Breathe" TV spot there is a much clearer look at a man standing, watching the Death Star become fully armed and operational. The uniform, the cut of his hair and shape of his head/ears, even his stance all fits: this looks like Tarkin.

probably-tarkin-rogue-one-death-star
(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Like Krennic has been revealed to be in the prequel novel Catalyst, Tarkin was a member of the Empire before it was born, as an already-ranking member of the Republic military during (and even before) the Clone Wars. Also like Krennic, he believed in military might over use of the Force to keep the Galactic Empire safe and keep its citizens in check. Oh, and the kicker, also like Krennic, he was assigned to the Death Star project at the end of the Clone Wars - not as a designer as Orson was, but as an overseer of its construction.

An overseer of its construction - just as this nameless character is doing in this very TV spot.

Indeed, the rumors of Tarkin's return to the screen date back to August of 2015, when The Daily Mail reported he wouldn't just be in the movie, but he would be played by a digital CGI version of Peter Cushing, allowing the deceased actor one more role. While it's been hinted that ILM took on some "unique challenges" for the film, this rumor has never been officially addressed by Lucasfilm.

On a behind-the-scenes notion, it's even more obvious that Tarkin would be included. The novel "Tarkin" detailed the character's background, and the time of the Empire's birth, including his being stationed at the Death Star project. It was the second release in the new series of fully canon novels, and that should denote the importance of the character. Likewise, Tarkin, after appearing in Star Wars: The Clone Wars ahead of the revamping of canon, has also been mentioned or appeared in several canon short stories, the novels Ahsoka and Lost Stars, the Darth Vader comic (just mentioned, since he's dead already at that point), and a few episodes of Star Wars Rebels. With his recognizability and the importance of his character across current canon properties, it's almost a certainty that he'll appear in Rogue One.

As for the role he'll play, it will probably be mostly background, perhaps even moreso than Darth Vader. There's a danger of "too many cooks" if you have two people that could be described as "high-ranking Imperial in charge (in a way) of the Death Star project who believes that force of military outweighs the Force itself" constantly interacting throughout the film, after all. Still, be ready to hear this confident man boast about the power of the Death Star alongside Krennic in Rogue One.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits US theaters December 16, 2016. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it's the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core "Skywalker Saga" of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue One tells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star. The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet." Tickets are on sale now.

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