5 things you never knew about Star Wars: Rogue One’s CGI characters (Carrie Fisher thought it was old footage)

Forget reshoots and Darth Vader puns, the real talking point from Star Wars: Rogue One was the use of CGI characters, Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin, to go full circle into A New Hope. We’ve already seen how they were made, but director Gareth Edwards has spilled the beans on every little detail behind how the special effects came to fruition on the big screen…

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Speaking to Total Film, Gareth Edwards laid down the trials and tribulations of bringing such iconic characters to life as CGI:

Tarkin very nearly wasn’t CGI at all 

Edwards and his team spitballed a bunch of ideas around before eventually settling on CGI for Tarkin, “Do we get an actor who looks like Peter Cushing? Do we just use the back of him? Do we use some unused footage somehow? ILM [the SFX team] were very confident that the time had come [to use CGI].”

Leia’s voice was Carrie Fisher… Tarkin’s was the mo-cap actor 

The final line of Rogue One – “Hope” – was delivered by Carrie Fisher using old A New Hope audio tapes (so it wasn't a new 'hope', hur hur). However, Tarkin’s more extensive role proved trickier so they kept actor Guy Henry’s voice in the final cut, as Edwards explains, “If you then started changing the voice, you’re just making life harder for yourself.”

Carrie Fisher couldn’t tell it was CGI 

Leia’s likeness was so convincing that Carrie Fisher herself just assumed “it was some footage from an outtake.”

The actor who mo-capped Tarkin was discovered on an obscure BBC show 

Those outside of England have probably never heard of the BBC hospital drama Holby City, let alone seen an episode. Gareth Edwards and casting director Jina Jay, though, scoured far and wide for a Tarkin double and actor Guy Henry landed the role after the director saw a clip of him in the BBC show. Edwards was immediately impressed and the rest, as they say, is CGI history.

The CGI shots were the first effects made for Rogue One… and the last ones to be finished 

It sounds obvious that the CGI characters took a helluva long time to produce in Rogue One but you probably didn’t know that the shots were the first ones to be produced for Rogue One and the very last ones to be completed: “The first plates we turned over to ILM was a Tarkin shot and a Leia shot, and the last shots that were finalled for the film were Tarkin shots and the Leia shot!” Edwards explains.

Read more about the secrets of Star Wars: Rogue One’s CGI in the latest issue of Total Film magazine, on sale now. Buy future issues here. 

Image: Lucasfilm/ILM

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.