han solo movie

In this edition of Star Wars Bits:

  • Woody Harrelson thinks it will be pretty cool to mentor Han Solo.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story picks up seven VES awards nominations.
  • The actor behind the digitally recreated Grand Moff Tarkin speaks out…
  • …and could more digitally recreated Star Wars characters be on the way?
  • One of the Rogue One editors talks about building the final film.
  • Rogue One writer Gary Whitta shares pictures from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens set.
  • Brian Blessed has a pretty great Jar Jar Binks story.
  • And more!

While the Star Wars series has never been a major awards season player, the film industry has typically done a fine job of recognizing the series’ contributions to the visual effects realm. Rogue One has been nominated for seven Visual Effects Society Awards across six categories. I love just how specific these nominations are:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature (Rogue One)
Outstanding Animated Performance in a Photoreal Feature (Grand Moff Tarkin)
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature (Scarif Complex)
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project (Space Battle)
Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project (Princess Leia and Star Destroyer)
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature (Jedha Destruction)

Rogue One - Grand Moff Tarkin - Visual Effects

Of course, these visual effects have also been the source of some controversy for how they resurrect Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and digitally recreate a young Princess Leia. I’m of two minds about this whole thing (it’s really impressive and it makes me really uncomfortable!), but I’m also fascinated by the process. So this The Hollywood Reporter interview with actor Guy Henry, who played Tarkin on set was digitally transformed into Tarkin by ILM, is fascinating. Here’s a taste:

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.

And while many fans and critics have wondered if this means we can look toward a future where more dead actors are brought back to digital life, Henry doesn’t think that’s likely:

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.

Rogue One - Princess Leia

But takes us right the story of Disney negotiating with the late Carrie Fisher’s estate to obtain the right use her likeness. The internet’s initial knee-jerk reaction to this news was that we’ll be getting a digitally recreated Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode 9, news that turned more than a few stomachs. However, a look at the full quote (via the good folks at io9) doesn’t confirm anything:

Carrie Fisher died less than a fortnight ago, but in the minds of Disney movie moguls and Star Wars fans, she’s very much alive. And with what might be regarded as unseemly haste, Disney is negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise. If Disney gets the go-ahead, Carrie Fisher will join Peter Cushing, who, last month, fifteen years after his death, played a key role in Rogue One as Grand Moff Tarkin. With computers, anything is possible, but is it desirable? While some living actors are contracting over the use of their image when they die, others, like Robin Williams, who killed himself in 2014, explicitly banned the commercial use of his image until 2039.

Episode 9 isn’t mentioned at all, which means that Disney could be simply looking to obtain permission to continue to use Fisher’s likeness in marketing. It’s too early to jump to any conclusions quite yet. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Disney is denying that the negotiations even happened in the first place

cassian and k2so in rogue one

Let’s move on to another subject, namely a series of interviews with Rogue Oneeditor John Gilroy, who spoke with several outlets about how he helped assemble the film (he is one of three credited editors on the film). First up, let’s take a look at his chat with The Independent, where he addresses all of those trailer shots that didn’t make it into the final movie:

I would say a lot of the movie changed. That’s the simplest way to put it. I’ve said we definitely changed things at the beginning, added scenes developing those characters, and that has a ripple effect through the whole movie. So, I know people have been watching and clocking the deleted scenes and saying ‘I wonder how that fit in?’ but I was mostly concerned with the movie you saw. I was there to put that movie together.

With io9, he spoke about walking the fine line of making a Star Wars movie that was little different from any other Star Wars movie:

This movie was supposed to be different than other Star Wars movies. They were trying to push the envelope of what a Star Wars movie could be. And when you do that, you try to walk that line. You want to make it different but you also want to very much make it part of the whole Star Wars saga. So trying to find that balance was the biggest challenge.

And with CinemaBlend, Gilroy explained how the “dark” ending of Rogue One isn’t that dark at all:

Most films don’t end on a dark ending because usually what happens if you do that is people walk out of the theater and they’re glum and that’s not what you want. We sidestep that in Rogue One because, first of all, their deaths have so much meaning. It’s a very noble self-sacrificing death on their parts. But from there we go to Vader overtaking the ship and having this incredible action sequence, which is earned. Star Wars fans loved that. Without even trying, that sort of changes someone’s mindset a little bit. All of a sudden, you moved to what Vader’s doing and then finally you’re moving to Leia.

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