Grand Moff Tarkin’s moment of triumph is here and he will not evacuate. The classic Star Wars Imperial villain will oversee construction of the Death Star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
After a period of speculation that the classic character would appear in the new standalone/prequel film, the latest TV spot for Rogue One has provided a glimpse of the back of Tarkin’s head. Entertainment Weekly is confirming that this is indeed supposed to be Tarkin himself, watching the Death Star being built, ruthlessly charming to the last.
The events of the prequel novel Catalyst establishes a political and bureaucratic rivalry between Tarkin and the film’s baddie, Orson Krennic. This makes sense since it is “governor” Tarkin who is in full command of the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope, not Krennic. So, because Krennic is involved with the creation of the Death Star in Rogue One, Tarkin must depose Krennic at some point in this movie. And Darth Vader’s looming presence probably means bumping Krennic out of the picture won’t be done through political or bureaucratic means. In A New Hope, Leia mentions that Tarkin is “holding Vader’s leash,” likening Darth Vader to an attack dog with a lightsaber.
Back in 1977, Grand Moff Tarkin was played by the late Peter Cushing in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope. For a brief cameo in 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a younger Tarkin was played by Wayne Pygram, wearing makeup to give his face the proper Grand Moff-edge. It’s not clear now if Pygram will reprise his role (at least two other Sith actors are already) or if the appearance of Tarkin will be so fleeting that a digital reconstruction, or archive footage of Cushing will be used instead.
Rogue One opens on December 16. The latest TV spot with Tarkin is titled “Breath,” because the majority of the soundtrack is just Darth Vader creepily breathing. Interestingly, back in 2002, one of the Attack of the Clones trailers was structured exactly the same way, proving as much as the galaxy tries to forget the prequels, they’ll continue to haunt Star Wars forever.