Sunday, 9 November 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1977: Peter Cushing in Star Wars

Peter Cushing did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars.

It is always interesting to note that in the original Star Wars the head villain actually wasn't Darth Vadar, instead it's Peter Cushing uniquely named Grand Moff Tarkin. This goes even so far in that he directly order Vadar around as he wishes, and it seems Vadar is completely subservient to him. There really is not much to Grand Moff Tarkin, he's really just a generally evil guy who does some generally evil things until he's exploded along with the Death Star. Technically he is replaced in the sequels by some other colonel Sanderses who hold decisively less sway over Vadar. They also hold less sway over the viewer as well as they are rather interchangeable for the most part, and rather quickly forgotten after being killed by Vadar. The only reason old Grand Moff Tarkin stands out, other than his odd name, is because of Peter Cushing's performance.

Peter Cushing, who perhaps is best known for dispatching Christopher Lee on more than one occasion, has such regal command perfect for this sort of role. Cushing has a rather clever method of this since he manages to be so commanding while all speaking very sufficiently, and never really even bothering to raise his voice. He frankly makes it okay that Darth Vadar is pushed around by Tarkin simply because Cushing is such an easy guy to be pushed around by. Cushing's rather interesting in that he consistently makes Tarkin seem a much more devious and intelligent foe than he really is as written. Tarkin actually constantly is quite stupid in his disregard of important information as well as far too much confidence of his precious Death Star. Nevertheless Cushing has such a cold wisdom in his delivery that Cushing makes Tarkin actually seem quite intelligent and imposing even if you already know he's going just to end up as a puff a smoke.

Cushing is always good whenever he is onscreen and I particularly like his chilling demeanor as he destroys Princess Leia's home planet even though she seemed to have given him the information that he wanted. There is just this general darkness that Cushing conveys with his expressions, and manages to personify the evil of the Empire quite well. If just being generally evil is the task of the part Cushing is more than up to it, and I do feel he brings a nice style to Tarkin who could have been extremely bland otherwise since there's not much to the character. Cushing gives a good performance and makes the most of the little he is given to do giving a bit more gravitas to the sci-fi fantasy world of Star Wars, nevertheless after watching the film once again though I can't quite say Cushing leaves that much of an impression and I would only rank him third out of the cast behind Harrison Ford and of course Alec Guinness.

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