Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is stirring up controversy over giving a long dead actor a starring role with some computer wizardry.
Famous for his horror film roles, Peter Cushing is resurrected to reprise his role as Gran Moff Tarkin.
This is Cushing’s first time back on the silver screen since 1986 – and many Stars Wars die-hards are complaining about the fuzzy CGI that has brought him back to life.
Social media is buzzing with angry messages complaining about how Cushing has been returned to acting.
Producer Kathleen Kennedy revealed Cushing’s inclusion in the multi-million-dollar latest episode of the Star Wars story was a last-minute decision.
Real or fantasy?
“We had to make a lot of small, subtle adjustments. We were right down to the wire,” she said. “And it never came down to one thing. If we tweaked one aspect, it threw something else off.”
The technology advance that has enable CGI to give a dead person what looks like a living and breathing role in a film opens a huge ethical debate about how studios might manipulate an actor’s image in the future.
CGI – computer generated images – is becoming so advanced that many film-goers cannot tell if what they are watching is real or produced by a computer.
Most modern sci-fi and fantasy movies lean heavily on the technology, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit as well as many of the Star Wars episodes.
The realism means that computer engineers can replicate the living or dead almost seamlessly on screen.
Stars given a new life
The new Ant Man movie, starring Michael Douglas, reveals a de-aged and wrinkle free actor.
Some actors are leaving post-death instructions barring the use of their image after they pass on.
Comedian and actor Robin Williams has a waiver stopping the publication of his image until at least 2039.
Recent films with CGI representations of dead actors include Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7 and Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.
Another famous CGI resurrection was Sir Laurence Olivier in Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow in 2004. Olivier was engineered to play the film’s villain even though he had been dead for 15 years.
Of course, the next move could be ditching real life actors in favour of CGI stars designed by software experts.