‘Star Wars’ VFX boss responds to criticism for digitally resurrecting dead actors

Visual effects supervisor John Knoll talks about recreating the late Peter Cushing in 'Rogue One'

Star Wars visual effects supervisor John Knoll has responded to critics who have questioned the ethics of digitally resurrecting dead actors after the late Peter Cushing made a return in spin-off film Rogue One as the Grand Moff Tarkin.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which made a storming start at the box office, stars Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker and Diego Luna. Read the NME review here.

Cushing, who died in 1994, appeared as Tarkin in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope and returned for a digitally produced cameo in Rogue One.

Speaking to Yahoo Movies, Knoll said: “We weren’t doing anything that I think Peter Cushing would’ve objected to. I think this work was done with a great deal of affection and care. We know that Peter Cushing was very proud of his involvement in Star Wars and had said as much, and that he regretted that he never got a chance to be in another Star Wars film because George [Lucas] had killed off his character.”

“This was done in consultation and cooperation with his estate. So we wouldn’t do this if the estate had objected or didn’t feel comfortable with this idea.”

Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDisney/Lucasfilm

On criticism of the aesthetics of digitally enhanced posthumous cameos, Knoll added: “There are people that have said quite vehemently that it looks terrible and looks like a video game, and I will assert that that is not the case… Essentially, we’re using the computer graphics as a tool to alter his appearance.”

After it was revealed that the late Carrie Fisher has a much ‘larger role‘ in the upcoming Star Wars Episode 8, it was also revealed that she’d signed up for Episode 9. Fans had been speculating how her death will impact the future of Star Wars, but it has now been reported that she won’t be digitally recreated in any future franchise films.

Fisher was, however, digitally recreated to look younger in Rogue One. Knoll says that the actress thought the results were “fantastic” and “was very much in favour of it”.