How to Spot a Dubious Star Wars Rumor: CGI Peter Cushing Edition


Sometimes people just want to believe a Star Wars rumor so much they’ll insist it’s convincing, with the latest one to cross my path being this:

[Peter] Cushing, star of many Hammer House of Horror movies, will be digitally recreated in the new Star Wars spin-off Rogue One, which is being filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and is due to be released late next year.

Okay, so why isn’t this credible? After all, Marlon Brando was digitally recreated for Superman Returns. Let me break it down for you.

First, it’s from UK tabloid The Daily Mail, which has a dubious relationship to the truth to begin with. Second, its only source is “A source told The Mail on Sunday.”

Now, I’m not saying never believe anonymous sources. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter often break news based on sources they won’t name, but they are generally corroborated via other Hollywood connections – the outlets stake their reputation on it. In the nerdosphere, other sites like Collider and Heroic Hollywood have connections that usually prove to be trustworthy. The Daily Mail does not.

But perhaps the biggest red flag the Mail raises is that their fake source keeps talking, and saying the wrong things:

“Cushing is a pivotal plot line as he was the one to create Darth Vader and there’s a whole back story that will come out.”

Mmmmm…NOPE. How many of the movies did you see?

“‘They are going through hours and hours of old footage from the horror movies to recreate his legs and feet to produce realistic movements,’ said the source. ‘It is eerie to see someone who has been dead for so long come to life on a screen.'”

Completely nuts. Why would they do that? It would be a whole lot easier and cheaper to get an actor wearing a greenscreen mask to duplicate Cushing’s movements in an actual costume. Then you either motion-capture his face, or creatively use makeup. But it would be silly – they recast Tarkin already in Revenge of Sith, and could easily do so again, since none of the kids in the target audience know or care who Peter Cushing is anyway.

Now here’s the wiggle room – there is an outside chance that this is true, and being reported by somebody who simply doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. But with every rumor like this, the first things to do are always (a) consider the source and (b) consider the likelihood, given everything else we know.

As Grand Moff Tarkin would say, if you believe the Mail uncritically, “you’re far too trusting.”