Lucasfilm Digitally Scans All Their Actors’ Faces So They Can Live Forever

“Carrie Fisher” in Rogue One

Haha, I’m just joking of course.

No, Star Wars: The Last Jedi VFX supervisor Ben Morris recently explained to Inverse how Lucasfilm does a digital scan on ALL actors in their movies…you know, “just in case”:

“We will always [digitally] scan all the lead actors in the film…We don’t know if we’re going to need them. We don’t intentionally scan them as an archive process. It’s for reference later.”

So basically…the studio has an archive of “digital clones” of all their actors that they can use for certain types of special effects, or…perhaps in combination with a real-life “stand in” just in case the original actor passes away.

The original and “reconstructed” Peter Cushing in Rogue One

For example, while an actual digital scan of the late Peter Cushing was not used in Rogue One to bring back the character of Moff Tarkin…his image was blended with a live actor (Guy Henry) to produce a somewhat lifelike reconstruction. You know…still a little on the uncanny valley side, a little “waxy,” a little creepy…but “sort of” alive!

Now, once you do the full body digital scan—like Lucasfilm did with Carrie Fisher—you get a much more “accurate” reconstruction. You still need a real-life actor to “anchor” and act-out the character—as actress Ingvild Deila did for Fisher’s character Princess Leia in Rogue One—but the results are pretty amazing.

Of course…who really can be billed as the “actor” for Tarkin and Leia in Rogue One?

In the IMDB, Henry gets credited with playing Tarkin, and Deila gets the credit for Princess Leia. But if these roles were executed with the images of other actors…what type of credit do those original actors get? And: how much “say” do they get over these “new” roles they appear in after their death?

Even if the families/estates of Cushing & Fisher sign off on the actors’ likenesses being used in the films…can we really be sure that the content of those films and the lines coming out of their mouths are ones the deceased would have approved of?

This is creepy, yo.

And what if an aging actor gets the “scan” and signs a contract to have their image used as a digital clone while they are still alive? They are still aging, but their digital clone remains young forever?

This is a real Pandora’s box here. And it’s going to make a bigger and bigger impact on the movies we watch moving forward.