Here’s how Star Wars: Rogue One created *those* returning CGI characters

One of the big talking points surrounding Star Wars: Rogue One was the shock inclusion of two characters from A New Hope appearing as CGI models. Want to know how Lucasfilm pulled it off? Of course you do. Spoilers for Star Wars: Rogue One follow.

ABC’s Nightline went behind the scenes at visual effects studio ILM to get the scoop on the recreation of Peter Cushing’s Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia. You can see the full video above.

For Tarkin, the process ranged from binge-watching every Peter Cushing scene from A New Hope over and over (you’ve gotta get that dead-eyed look just right, apparently) and then hiring an actor – Guy Henry – to mo-cap and mimic his style complete with ‘head-mounted camera rig’. 

However, most of that wouldn’t have been possible without a lucky find: a Peter Cushing face mask from Cushing’s role in 1984 movie Top Secret. Major props to whoever found that lying in a dusty Hollywood costume cupboard.

Start to finish, the process of pipe dream to Peter Cushing took around 18 months. Thankfully, Princess Leia’s transformation wasn’t as time consuming – and it even received the blessing of the late Carrie Fisher before she passed away last year. She “loved” her recreation, according to Chief Creative Officer of ILM John Knoll.

If that doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, I don’t know what will.

Images: Lucasfilm/ILM

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior 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.