By: Dominic Jones
One of the stand out visual effects in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the CGI recreation of Peter Cushing for the role of Grand Moff Tarkin. But, beneath all of the make-up and visual effects is the performance by an actor named Guy Henry. Henry, whose previous credits include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the BBC series Holby City, was on set to provide a motion capture performance that would serve as the basis for the Tarkin effect. Henry spoke with The Hollywood Reporter recently about the process.
Henry discussed what it was like to be a part of such an effect, saying,
"I felt I couldn't feel too responsible in the sense of the way that it looked. I had to trust John Knoll and Gareth and the team, who were convinced they could make it work. Vocally, I'm not a mimic. I'm genuinely not an impressionist. I'd be doing my very best to do my Tarkin, the rolled "r" and the voice as best I could, and Gareth would say, "OK relax on that. Just be a bit more Guy now." I had to trust that they saw something in the reel of my work that convinced them it could be the tribute to Cushing everyone wanted it to be. It was very, very frightening, in all seriousness."
He also addressed the infamous Rogue One reshoots saying,
"Because the story was changing all the time, I kept thinking I had finished. "The responsibility has lapsed. Thank God, I can lie down." Then they'd say, "Actually, can you come in next week and do half a line here and half a line there?" It was genuinely frightening, because I didn't want to let down a huge movie, and equally, I didn't want to let down Peter Cushing."
Henry also talked about the possibility of the effect used to turn him into Peter Cushing becoming more prevalent in cinema, saying,
I can't really see why they would. Suddenly to make a new film and get James Dean in it? I can't see that's likely to happen. This was very specifically to recreate this character in a way that served the story of Rogue One. Apart from anything else, the work involved in it was enormous. I always felt so sorry for the poor people in Industrial Light & Magic. They had to spend all day and most of the night with me trying to make me look like him. Tony Gilroy, who was the second unit director, said, "God, I've spent a hell of a lot of time listening to your voice." I said, "You poor man. I'm sorry about that." (...) I think and hope it won't be a commonplace thing. I can see when it can be used for a good piece of storytelling, and I'm sure they will consider it. I don't think it's going to be very common.
He also spoke about working with Ben Mendelsohn, who played Director Orson Krennic, saying,
"He's wonderful. He gets himself completely into the character. He's alive. He's sparking. At one point, I was being deliberately louche in order to wind him up. He thought I was looking at the monitor, which was at the back of the camera. I was being deliberately dismissive. I succeeded so much, I really pissed him off. He shouted, "Don't look at the monitor, Guy!" I wasn't looking at the monitor, and as a true professional, I never would. [Laughs]"
If you're interested in learning more about the process used to create the Tarkin effect, Nightline recently did a piece about ILM with John Knoll discussing the effect. More footage of Henry as Tarkin was also released by ABC's Clayton Sandell, who interviewed Knoll (and other ILM artists) for the piece. You can see that below,
Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.