Star Wars: How Did They Recreate Princess Leia in ‘Rogue One’?

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‘Rogue One’ was a cool movie that elaborated on obtaining the Death Star blueprints and the team of rebels behind it. It was a great story, but it had the unforgiving task of tying directly into the first ‘Star Wars’ film, ‘ A New Hope.’ Some characters – like Princess Leia – had to appear as their young, 1977 versions of themselves, so how did they recreate Leia in ‘Rogue One’? Let’s find out.

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Princess Leia was recreated with a very advanced CGI technique that involved a new actress, motion tracking, CGI facial superimposition, and tons of footage from the original trilogy.
  • Carrie Fisher was still alive when ‘Rogue One’ was filmed, and she was allegedly amazed when shown the results of the scene prior to the movie’s release.
  • Princess Leia wasn’t the only character from ‘A New Hope’ that was recreated in ‘Rogue One’ – there was also Grand Moff Tarkin, who was portrayed by the late Peter Cushing.

How was a young Princess Leia created for ‘Rogue One’?

‘Rogue One’ ended at a point that was literally only moments before the beginning of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.’ That meant the films had to be tied into one another, which subsequently meant that at least one character from the original movie had to be recreated for ‘Rogue One.’

It ended up being two characters, but surely the more prominent one of those two was the amazing Princess Leia. Back in 1977, Leia Organa was portrayed by 19-year-old Carrie Fisher – a role that skyrocketed the talented actress into a whole new stratosphere of legendary.

However, Fisher was 59 when ‘Rogue One’ was filmed, so naturally, you couldn’t just put her in there and make her look younger, right? Despite the fact that Princess Leia literally had just one line and one scene in the film, a whole complex special effect system had to be implemented to give us the iconic scene. So, how was it done?

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Firstly, they had to find an actress with a similar body type and facial features as a 19-year-old Carrie Fisher. That ended up being Ingvild Delia, a beautiful, talented Norwegian actress who took the cameo role seriously.

Delia was given months to study Fisher’s performance and portrayal of Leia, trying to figure out the little nuances of her performance, like non-vocal facial expressions, micro gestures, pronunciation of certain words, etc. All of that was done so that the CGI could be done more easily and more seamlessly.

They recreated Leia’s outfit to a tee, and Delia had motion-capture dots all over her face during the scene, which were subsequently used as markers to superimpose Fisher’s face over Delia’s. Again, the special effects team used a ton of archive footage – used and unused – from the original trilogy to get even the slightest gestures right.

Even the audio was incredibly well-thought-out despite there only being one line – or one word, to be precise – from Princess Leia in the entire film: ‘Hope.’

They scoured through the soundbites recorder for ‘A New Hope’ and took every take from Fisher’s line ‘Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope’ and modified the word ‘hope’ slightly to fit the scene in ‘Rogue One.’

It ended up being such a nice job that even Carrie Fisher herself reportedly thought it was incredible. She initially thought that old unused footage from ‘A New Hope’ was found and remastered – at least that’s what the reports suggest.

As for the public reviews, there were mixed emotions about the whole ordeal. Whether you liked the CGI process of putting Carrie Fisher’s face over another actress or not, it’s undeniable that it was a marvelous job by the CGI team behind the scenes.

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Was Princess Leia the only CGI character in ‘Rogue One?

Interestingly, Princess Leia wasn’t the only character that was recreated via CGI for ‘Rogue One’ from ‘A New Hope.’ A character from the other side of the war – the Imperial side – was also recreated, believed by John Knoll to be ‘such an important part of ‘Episode IV’ and the Death Star program.’ 

That character was Grand Moff Tarkin, portrayed by the late actor Peter Cushing. Fishing passed away in 1994, which made his inclusion into ‘Rogue One’ – released in 2016 – a bit controversial, to say the least. Still, as the producers stated, they had the approval of the Cushing estate, and the character also had a minor role.

The process, however, was a little different than it was with Fisher and Princess Leia. As it was reported, a ‘fortunate discovery of an old Peter Cushing face cast’ was incredibly helpful in recreating Moff Tarkin for ‘Rogue One.’

Similarly to Dalia and Fisher, an actor named Guy Henry was used to do the scenes with Tarkin, and then Peter Cushing’s face was added by visual effects artists in post-production. There’s even a scene where you can see a little glimpse of how it was done for ‘Rogue One.’

As for Carrie Fisher, she made a post-humous appearance in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX – The Force Awakens’ as well, where a similar method was used to recreate her as it was for ‘Rogue One’ – but for an older Carrie this time around.

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