Put this rumour in the category of “So crazy it just might be true… except it’s not”…
Imagine getting a direct sequel to Return of the Jedi, with Luke, Han and Leia in their primes, 30 years after such a film could have been made conventionally. How? Using de-aged CGI heads, a la CLU in TRON: Legacy.
Let me start by saying this is not mere fan speculation, as some people seem to think. There are a number of reasons to believe this rumour has credibility, not the least of which being that it comes from credible sources. And, given that technology is already moving in this direction, it almost seems inevitable that this will be on the cards at some point. After all, TRON: Legacy will be five years old when Episode VII hits, which is a long time in terms of technology maturation.
However, one ILM insider has apparently laughed off the idea. It seems there are no such plans at this stage.
My gut instinct says that this is not happening… yet. Disney want to play it safe with Episode VII at the very least, and having the three main leads be CGI human-like creations mimicking well-known actors seems to go against that notion to an absurd degree. This movie is being shot on 35mm film—it’s not like cutting edge tech is the name of the game this time ’round. (Also, expect Episode VII to be a simple 3D post-conversion, unlike Avatar, The Hobbit or the upcoming Jurassic World.)
That said, I agree with my good friend Jason Ward over at MakingStarWars.net that this isn’t out of the question down the line. Once Disney feel confident that Star Wars is a consistent earner, no doubt they will experiment with such techniques, possibly in one of the later Star Wars spinoffs. I can imagine the idea is already being tossed around internally as a possible avenue to pursue at a later date, and maybe that has filtered through to various sources and become distorted along the way.
So don’t get your hopes up for a Jedi sequel featuring a youthful Big Three just yet. But one day we may see a Star Wars film with a young Princess Leia cameo. Who knows?
Many possibilities await us in the decade-plus of Star Wars media that is still to come.