This week has been a tumultuous one for production company Magic City Films. After announcing on Wednesday that its Vietnam-era war film Finding Jack would feature a CGI James Dean as a supporting cast member, various actors took to Twitter the following day to lend their two-cents on the matter. They all proposed that banking on a deceased actor’s image was a disrespectful thing to do, not to mention it would be replacing the hard work that living actors give to their craft.
Now, Finding Jack director Anton Ernst has responded to the controversy with utter befuddlement. “We don’t really understand it,” the director told Hollywood Reporter. “We never intended for this to be a marketing gimmick.” He expressed that he was “saddened” and “confused” with the overly negative blowback, seemingly not understanding how utilizing a deceased actor’s image is kind of gross.
During the initial announcement of Dean’s role, Ernst had stated, “We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean.” Many on social media couldn’t comprehend how moronic of a statement that was, especially considering an annual James Dean festival is held in Indiana with a look-alike contest.
To quote James Dean: â€œIf a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after heâ€™s dead then maybe he was a great manâ€ We will pay homage to his legacy.
— Anton Ernst (@antonernst) November 6, 2019
Magic City Films is also confused. The company had obtained permission from Dean’s remaining family to utilize his likeness for Finding Jack. Dean’s estate, which is now supported by two cousins of the late actor, has been very “supportive” of the film and what it intends to do with Dean. “I think they would have wanted their family member’s legacy to live on. That’s what we’ve done here as well,” Ernst added.
Ernst stressed that, “At the end of the day, what we really want people to know is the movie is about love and friendship, the veterans that served in the Vietnam War and especially the dogs that were with them. We never want to lose that emphasis and this [social media reaction] becomes a distraction of what the story is about.” That’s certainly a way of putting it.
Ernst continued to talk about how VFX are a tool and one should always respected the deceased’s image, but he apparently can’t comprehend why people are upset. People aren’t concerned that this film will tarnish Dean’s reputation, but more that resurrecting an actor without their consent sets a dangerous precedent for Hollywood productions. It removes the humanity from a role, which is ultimately what an actor is there to portray on camera.
It’s unlikely that the producers of Finding Jack will back down from their decision. Whether or not this is disrespectful, people are now talking about the movie and will likely flock to see it for the very reason they are protesting against. I urge anyone upset to actually stick to their guns and refuse to see this film. Hitting Hollywood in the wallet is the only way they will listen.
Director of New James Dean Movie Speaks Out Over Backlash to Star’s “Casting” [The Hollywood Reporter]