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There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Sad news for dog lovers is coming in today as it's now being reported that another beloved television animal has passed away. Odin the Northern Inuit, the dog seen by millions of Game of Thrones fans across the world when he played Bran Stark's pet direwolf Summer in the very first episode of the hit HBO series, died this week after battling mouth cancer for the past several months. According to his owners, Odin had spent his final days with his family taking walks on the beach and dining on his favorite foods, dying at the age of ten this week when his health took a turn for the worse.
In a social media post confirming Odin's passing, his owners state they adopted the Inuit when he was just a 7-week-old puppy, spending the next ten years with the television dog as a very important part of the family. 'Odin's passing marks the end of a decade and the end of an era as he taught our friends and family a lot of lessons about life for one dog he has more stories to tell than some people would,' they explain on Instagram. Adding that we can all 'take great comfort in knowing that he is forever immortalised' on Game of Thrones, the owners also note: 'It's an incredible piece of luck to have a pet you love so well become world famous and touch so many people's hearts.'
Longtime Game of Thrones fans might remember when Ned Stark Sean Bean adopted orphaned direwolf puppies for each of his five children: Grey Wind for Robb Richard Madden, Lady for Sansa Sophie Turner, Nymeria for Arya Maisie Williams, Summer for Bran Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Shaggydog for Rickon Art Parkinson. Ned's illegitimate son Jon Snow Kit Harington adopted another direwolf puppy named Ghost for himself as well. Following the appearances of the direwolves as puppies in season one, CGI would later be used to create the larger adult versions of the animals in later seasons.
Recently, we lost another famous television dog as well, as Modern Family's bulldog Stellapassed away just days after the series wrapped filming its final episode. Last year also saw the deaths of the animal actors who played the beloved pet dogs on the comedy shows Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Fuller House. Needless to say, it's been a bit rough lately for dog lovers, so let's hope our other favorite pets from television stay safe with no new casualties for a long, long time.
Following Odin's cancer diagnosis, HBO also did their part in caring for the Game of Thrones star by helping to raise funds to pay for his ongoing medical treatment; Odin's family says the leftover funds after paying for the vet bill will be donated to animal charities. Though the dog was unfortunately unable to be saved, his top-notch medical treatment and the quality care from his owners went a long way in making his final days on Earth as comfortable and happy as they could possibly be for the world-famous pet. Rest in peace, sweet Odin - you were a very good boy. This news comes to us from...