Warning: spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are ahead!
One of the most talked about elements concerning Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the digital process the movie used to “recreate” Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin despite the actor being dead for over 20 years. However, he wasn’t the only the only character who was affected by this VFX wizardry. The big surprise came during the last minute of the movie, when audiences saw Princess Leia Organa on the screen, looking just like she did in A New Hope. There have been mixed reactions about how this version of Leia looked, but before her death, Leia’s actress, Carrie Fisher, saw the reproduction and liked it very much.
During ABC News’ Nightline special on the work and technology that went into Tarkin and Leia in Rogue One, John Knoll, Lucasfilm’s chief creative officer and visual effects supervisor, mentioned how Carrie Fisher had given her blessing on this cameo before it was added into the movie. According to Knoll:
She was involved in the process and, you know, she saw the final result and she loved it. She got to see the scene. [Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm] showed it to her. So, I got a call afterwards from Kathy saying, ‘Well, Carrie loved it.’
As a refresher, Rogue One ended with Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor successfully transmitting the plans for the Death Star off of Scarif, and while the Rebels receiving said plans were quickly slaughtered by Darth Vader, they were able to slip them onto the Tantive IV beforehand. The plans were then delivered to Princess Leia, who only said one word about what the schematics meant for the Rebellion: “Hope.” That ending almost seamlessly connects to the beginning of A New Hope, where the Tantive IV was being chased down by a Star Destroyer.
Along with informing fans about how Carrie Fisher felt about seeing her younger self in Rogue One, John Knoll also provided some details on how the movie created a 19-year-old Fisher (Leia was represented during principal photography by actress Ingvild Deila). He said:
I think it’s a really good match to what she looked like in ‘Episode IV.’ We had really good scans of her and … we matched a couple of frames very exactly with our CG model and then sort of bounced back and forth between our render and the archival frame.
Sadly, Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27, four days after suffering a heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles, making Leia’s Rogue One scene much more meaningful. Still, it’s good to hear that the actress approved of the finalized Leia recreation. I imagine Fisher was the kind of person who would have let one of the Lucasfilm folks know if she didn’t care for how it looked.
You can judge the CGI versions of Tarkin and Leia for yourself now, as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is still playing in theaters. Fans can also see the proper Carrie Fisher in the Star Wars universe one last time when Episode VIII is released on December 15, 2017.