One of the best moments of fan service in new Star Wars prequel Rogue One comes during the final space battle, which sees the surprise reappearance of two Rebel pilots from the original 1977 Star Wars – Angus MacInnes’ Y-Wing pilot Gold Leader and the late Drewe Healey’s X-Wing pilot Red Leader.
As director Gareth Edwards explained to RadioTimes.com last month, the effect was mainly achieved with unused archive footage from ‘77’s A New Hope – but now McInnes has also revealed the extent to which he helped record new dialogue for his character Jon “Dutch” Vander to help blend the older footage with the new movie.
“They contacted me about, um, sometime in early October?” the actor told YouTuber and radio presenter Jamie Stangroom, “and said they wanted to use the footage, and could they? And I said well yeah! And then they asked me to re-voice it.”
“So I went into the studio here [in the UK] and re-voiced – we did a video link with Los Angeles, no, San Francisco. And we rerecorded 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 [A New Hope’s battle of] Yavin as you could with this sequence.”
A compilation of MacInnes’ flight scenes as Gold Leader in the original Star Wars
However, apparently the dialogue wasn’t changed extensively, with just a few key elements altered to fit the scene.
“It wasn’t substantially different,” MacInnes explained. “If you look at it like it was a bunch of spitfires, they basically go through the same routine every time they attacked, if you remember all those movies.
“This is very very similar, so there wasn’t a lot of changes. It’d be like things like, ‘watch out for those towers!’ Which was another line we added in, so that was a new line. And a lot of the other lines about getting ready to make our run, blah blah blah, were basically the same.
“When I say there were tweaks, we revoiced the entire thing – but the dialogue was largely the same. Largely the same. There were just things to make it relevant to the sequence.”
Though of course, the return of MacInnes’ fellow pilot provided greater difficulties, as Red Leader actor Drewe Healey (above) had sadly passed away earlier in 2016.
“I talked in London, at the screening of Rogue One, to the sound engineer who had done the work in San Francisco with us,” MacInnes recalled. “And it was interesting the things he came up with.
“For [Red Leader] he had to use original dialogue, because the actor died, unfortunately. So they went back into the archives, and they found a bunch of outtakes. And they redigitalised that and cleaned those up and used them for him, but they could actually re-voice me, so that was good.
MacInnes with Carrie Fisher in the original 1977 Star Wars
“And of course Carrie [Fisher, whose Princess Leia was digitally returned shortly before her death last month] had her own dialogue that she did, unfortunately she’s not with us [now].”
Overall, MacInnes says it was a good experience to resurrect his character (who dies in the final battle of A New Hope) – even if the whole thing was a little mind-blowing.
“When I went to see it it was kinda bizarre, but I mean… seeing yourself in a movie today that you did 40 years ago is… a little disorientating, and very exciting,” he said.
“It’s nice to know that he lives to fight again, even though it’s going to be fairly terminal.”
For more of the interview, including MacInnes’ thoughts on Rogue One’s digital resurrection of long-dead actor Peter Cushing, you can watch the full interview below.