Major Spoilers for Rogue One ahead.
During the Nightline segment about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that aired Wednesday night, the focus was on the use of digital effects and human actors to resurrect Peter Cushing, letting him "perform" as Grand Moff Tarkin once again, despite the actor being dead for 22 years.
They also rewound the clock for Carrie Fisher, bringing back a 19 year-old Princess Leia to deliver a single line at the end of the film. The creations have been debated amongst fans, with seemingly a fifty/fifty split of fans who loved, or even didn't notice the effect, and those who constantly noticed it and said they were taken out of the film.
But beyond that, another conversation has been taking place, this one about the ethics of digital recreations, especially when used with long-deceased actors.
"This work was done with great affection and care," EP John Knoll told Nightline. He said they've drawn unfair comparisons to commercials that used digital effects to have Fred Astaire dance with a Dirt Devil or Audrey Hepburn selling chocolate.
"That's not what we've done here. I would like to think that the role we gave Tarkin in this film was one that Peter Cushing would have been really excited to play," Knoll said.
The Cushing family and estate was also involved and approving of the effect.
As for Leia, to make her 19 again, actress Ingvild Deila stood in for the young Carrie Fisher.
"It was also done with permission of Carrie Fisher. She was involved in the process, and saw the final result and she loved it," he said. They used both digital scans of Fisher, the new digital effects, and archival frames. "I think it's a really good match to what she looked like in Episode IV. We had really good scans of her and ... we matched a couple of frames very exactly with our CG model and then sort of bounced back and forth between our render and the archival frame."
All of this conversation becomes much heavier due to recent events, of course. Fisher's untimely and tragic death at the end of December throws chaos into the Star Wars schedule, where she's due to appear in two more films - or at least General Leia is. Star Wars: Episode VIII finished filming last summer, so her role there is fine. Lucasfilm is reportedly meeting next week to discuss Episode IX, however, and what their next step for the character could and should be.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now. 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."