Books, Film & TV Sunday, December 18th

Rogue One Wish: Hereford fan Neil Hanvey is actually in the new Stars Wars film

Books, Film & TV Sunday, December 18th

Rogue One Wish: Hereford fan Neil Hanvey is actually in the new Stars Wars film

Months after the #RogueOneWish campaign brought Star Wars director Gareth Edwards to see a Hereford film fan dying of cancer, the story gets even more epic.

Before a special screening of the new movie in memory of Neil Hanvey this weekend it was revealed that he is actually in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'.

Audio of Neil, a lifelong Star Wars fan and ace illustrator who died of cancer in August, was recorded by Rogue One director Edwards during a visit to St Michael's Hospice in the summer.

Edwards, who also directed the Godzilla reboot and 2010's Monsters, visited Neil after an online campaign to help him see scenes from the film ahead of its release caught the world's attention.

Just a few days before his death, Neil's voice was recorded and then incorporated into the film. 

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Neil and his wife Andrea with Star Wars director Gareth Edwards.

The Rogue One screening in memory of Neil took place at Hereford's Odeon and in a recorded video message Edwards thanked everyone who got behind the #RogueOneWish campaign to make Neil's sci-fi dream come true.

"A few months ago I had the real honour and privilege of meeting Neil, Andrea, and the rest of the family at St.Michael's hospice," says Edwards in the message.

"I brought with me a tape recorder and Neil was scarily good at doing impressions of aliens from Star Wars so we actually put his voice in the movie.

"Keep an eye out for a scene where a character says “we have not come here to make friends” and he walks off screen and someone walks past behind him that has a big mushroom sort of metal helmet and he makes a little alien voice and that’s Neil’s voice.

"It was very touching to meet Neil. His background was graphic design and mine was too, so I feel like in some other world we would have been really good friends.” 

Neil's #RogueOneWish campaign went viral in August this year.

In April, the 36-year-old web designer and artist was told he had maybe eight months to live. 

Friends, family and fellow Star Wars fans shared #RogueOneWish far and wide. Even Luke Skywalker himself, actor Mark Hamill, showed his support by sharing the story on Twitter.

As the hashtag went viral, a video of staff at St Michael's Hospice reworking the Star Wars theme with lyrics dedicated to him was viewed more than 60,000 times; colleagues at his employer allpay Ltd in Hereford (Herefordshire Live's parent company) posed for pics, Stormtrooper masks included, and thousands of strangers shared his story online.

The message got through, and two days before Neil died the hospice posted this on Facebook:

The circle is now complete.

Check out Neil's artwork at neilhanvey.co.uk and instagram.com/neilhanvey. Tile illustration by Neil.

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Neil and Andrea's son gives Gareth Edwards the lightsaber treatment during his visit to St Michael's Hospice. 

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