Hickel’s statements are significant because Mark Hamill didn’t have to be on set to pull off this important cameo. Lucasfilm has brought back younger versions of their characters through de-aging and the use of stand-in performers several times before.
In an interview with The Resistance Broadcast via ComicBook.com, VFX supervisor Hal Hickel pulled back the curtain on Mark Hamill’s involvement. He said that it was “always important” to have Hamill “be involved with crafting the performance” and that the VFX team didn’t just want to use “deep-fake” technology to replace a recast actor’s face with Hamill’s:
“That particular aspect of the effects of Season 2 is probably the thing I can talk about the least. But I will say this. One, it was always important for everyone involved to have Mark involved. So it’s not just like, ‘Well, we are recasting and we’ll deep-fake over him.’ Mark had to be involved with crafting the performance and he was. He was there on set when the scene was shot… he was totally involved all the way through.”
Younger versions of Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia appeared in both Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker (the latter due to a performance by her daughter Billie Lourd), and Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin also appeared in Rogue One despite the great actor having passed years prior.