One of the biggest talking points of last year’s Star Wars spin-off Rogue One was the surprise return of Peter Cushing’s character Grand Moff Tarkin, last seen blowing up with the Death Star in the original 1977 Star Wars.
And a large portion of that surprise came from the fact that Cushing had died in 1994, with his character instead replicated by cutting-edge special effects and the performance of Holby City star Guy Henry, who has now spoken about the experience for the first time.
“It’s been bloody frightening, I can tell you,” Henry says in the special features footage for Rogue One: A Star Wars story’s DVD release. “I mean, it’s Star Wars!”
Following Henry on set, the DVD special feature reveals that the actor spent his time between takes studying footage of Cushing in A New Hope on an iPad, repeating Tarkin’s original lines on set to warm him up for his own dialogue which was recorded in a special motion-capture rig.
“I’m gleaning everything I can from Cushing’s portrayal of him,” Henry explained. “I’m not a mimic, I’m not an impressionist. It’ll be…an essence, I think, of the way Peter Cushing might have approached it.
“I want to feel I can get within spitting distance, at least, of the task ahead,” he went on. “It’s very daunting, actually, to try and be a famous character in the original film. And also to emulate an actor that I myself admire.”
Of course, Tarkin wasn’t the only original trilogy character to appear, with Norwegian actress Ingvild Deila standing in for Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the closing moments of the film.
“It takes a lot of preparation to get into this character, because everyone remembers Leia very well, so it needs to look exactly right,” Deila revealed on the DVD special features track, in a segment titled The Princess and the Governer.
“And so they spent a lot of time on my hair, obviously, they dyed it twice, and then they added some extra hair here in the front, because her hairline is a bit lower than mine. And also a big chunk of hair to make the buns.
“And then all these dots was put on right before we started shooting, so they could put Carrie Fisher’s face on top of mine. And transform me into her, which is a great honour,” she concluded.
“There wouldn’t have been any decision to have a character reappear like this unless [visual effects supervisor] John Knoll could reassure us that it was going to be completely believable,” LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained. “And John felt very strongly that he could do that.”
“We have made a lot of big advances in the last few years, in facial motion capture, skin rendering and hair,” Knoll added. “And I felt like we were ready for that challenge.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download 10th April