How Star Wars Brought Force Ghosts To Life In The Time Before CGI

In John Phillip Peecher’s “Star Wars – The Making of ‘Return of the Jedi,'” Howard Kazanjian, who produced all three Original Trilogy installments (as well as “Raiders of the Lost Ark), spilled the beans on the Force ghost process, and how it changed from “The Empire Strikes Back” to “Return of the Jedi.”

For “Empire,” Sir Alec was placed in front of a black velvet background, where he delivered his lines without another actor present. “The aura was then added to his image, and this film was composited together with the film of Mark,” said Kazanjian. Alec wasn’t a fan of this approach. As Kazanjian observed, “[I]t’s awfully hard to get into the scene and deliver your lines to another actor who isn’t even there.” This is, of course, commonplace now in the age of CG-laden blockbusters, where characters and whole environments are added in post-production, but at the time, for the classically trained Sir Alec, this held zero appeal.

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