That feat was uniquely challenging since the actor who played Tarkin, Peter Cushing, died in 1994. Rather than simply recast the role, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic used computer graphics to map Cushing's likeness onto a stand-in actor in Rogue One.
It was a bold move and one that director Gareth Edwards says he wasn't sure he was willing to make at first.
"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,'" Edwards tells IGN. "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."
Even after Edwards was convinced, he still felt like it would be a hard sell to the actor.
"And Guy Henry was the actor...It was a big ask to ask him to come on board and say to him, 'Ok, you're going to do this whole big massive role. We're going to replace you digitally, completely, with someone else's face, and you also have to keep it totally secret and never tell anyone.'"
Henry is a big name in the United Kingdom who, Edwards explains, may have passed up the role if it were imitating any other actor. But Henry had fond memories of Cushing's performances as Sherlock Holmes, which Henry internalized as a child. Now Edwards is just pleased Henry is able to go public with the role.
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In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is written by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta. The film star Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is now playing in theaters.