We’ve just gotten a Tarkin tease.
The Imperial commander played by the late Peter Cushing in 1977’s original Star Wars has long been rumored to make an appearance in Rogue One, which takes place just prior to the events of that first film.
Now, at long last, in a teaser to promote the advance ticket sales that began at midnight on Monday, we catch a glimpse from behind of the resurrected villain, watching from afar as his precious Death Star is assembled.
We don’t see the character’s face, of course, but the head, the hair, the ears, the costume — come on. There is no doubt.
The question now is: how?
Cushing died in 1994, but the character has lived on in comics, cartoons, and novels, and even walked the bridge of a Star Destroyer in the final moments of 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, overseeing the framework construction of the Death Star.
He was played in that movie by Wayne Pygram, in make-up designed to recreate Cushing’s razor-cheekboned appearance. In the animated Rebels and The Clone Wars shows, the character was voiced by Stephen Stanton.
This time, rumors have circulated that Cushing himself would be recreated digitally for a brief appearance in Rogue One. Michael Douglas was made miraculously younger in Marvel’s Ant-Man, as was Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War. HBO’s Westworld has also done uncanny work de-aging Anthony Hopkins. But in each case, the actor was involved in the digital rejuvenation, providing a baseline performance for the visual effects artists to work with.
With Cushing long deceased, it will be fascinating to unravel just how Industrial Light and Magic may have brought him back — if that is the character, and if that’s the method of his resurrection.
John Knoll, the executive producer and visual effects supervisor for Rogue One, hinted at something revolutionary in a recent interview with EW.
Asked what Holy Grail the visual effects designers were chasing with this film, which never-before-seen bit of technology they innovated, Knoll said: “I have to tread lightly there because some of the fun bits of innovation are stuff that I’ve been asked not to talk about yet. You know, we want to hold that back.”
This shot of a mysterious character from behind may be the first glimpse of that secret.
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