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Peter Cushing appears in Rogue One movie 20 years after his death

By Joe Wright

More than 20 years after his death Whitstable’s late acting veteran Peter Cushing has returned to the silver screen - but not without controversy.

Appearing in the Star Wars spin off Rogue One, Cushing’s character Moff Tarkin has been recreated using high-tech computer generated imagery (CGI).

His inclusion in the film has sparked a mixed response from critics all over the world - with some praising it as “ground-breaking” and others slating it as “a giant breach of respect”.

Peter Cushing was a veteran actor until his death more than 20 years ago
Peter Cushing was a veteran actor until his death more than 20 years ago

Speaking when the news of Cushing’s reappearance was announced, Doug Gardiner, a film programmer and former event coordinator at the Horsebridge Centre, was pleased the town’s actor would return.

He said: “Can you imagine seeing him back on the big screen? Providing they do the man justice, because he is an absolute legend, it will be great.

“I am quite excited but we have got to keep our fingers crossed that the CGI is at a point that they can do him justice.”

Cushing, who lived in Whitstable for the final 25 years of his life, also featured as the star of countless horror films during his career, including Dracula and Dr Frankenstein.

The world’s media has responded to his digital recreation, with The Huffington Post calling it “a giant breach of respect for the dead” and The Guardian saying it worked “remarkably well.”

For Rogue One, filmmakers cast the English actor Guy Henry - who has a build and stature like Cushing’s and could speak in a similar manner.

Peter Cushing lived in Whitstable
Peter Cushing lived in Whitstable

When filming, the actor wore motion-capture technology, so that his face could be later replaced with a digital re-creation of Cushing’s piercing trademark features.

Speaking to The New York Times, John Knoll, a visual effects supervisor to the film said: “It is a slippery slope argument.

“It is in the spirit of what a lot of Star Wars has done in the past but it is extremely labour-intensive and expensive to do.

“I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner.

“This was done for very solid and defendable story reasons. This is a character that is very important to telling this kind of story.

"We’re not planning on doing this digital re-creation extensively from now on. It just made sense for this particular movie.”

Extract from the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Extract from the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Mr Knoll also addressed the difficulty regarding the Whitstable actor’s unique mannerisms.

He said: “When Peter Cushing makes an ‘aah’ sound, he doesn’t move his upper lip. He only opens his jaw about halfway, and makes this square shape with his lower lip, that exposes his lower teeth.”

What do you think? Email whitstablegazette@thekmgroup.co.uk or write to Gazette House, 5-8 Boorman Way, Wraik Hill, Whitstable, CT5 3SE.

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