Just yesterday, production company Magic City Films announced that its Vietnam-era war film Finding Jack would feature a CGI James Dean in a secondary role despite the man having passed away over 60 years ago. As technology improves more and more, it seems Hollywood is finally ditching real actors to bank more on their images than ever before. Obviously, this hasn’t gone over well with many.
Various actors have taken to Twitter to voice their disgust with the decision, decrying it as a shameless attempt to cash-in on a person’s persona. Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, was particularly vocal with her displeasure. “Publicity stunt or not, this is puppeteering the dead for their ‘clout’ alone and it sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance,” stated Williams.
Chris Evans, Captain America himself, shared her sentiment. “This is awful. Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes. The complete lack of understanding here is shameful.” This was quickly followed-up by Elijah Wood, who wrote, “NOPE. This shouldn’t be a thing.”
— devon sawa (@DevonESawa) November 6, 2019
Michelle Buchman, a writer in charge of social media for Star Wars, was baffled by the choice. “There is literally a James Dean Festival held every year in Indiana where they have a look-alike contest,” she said, “so like if you really needed someone it’s not that hard to find them.” Obviously she operates with a soul, something Hollywood will never understand.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter yesterday, Finding Jack co-director Anton Ernst 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.” I guess Rogan is a corpse, then.
While this isn’t the first time a deceased actor has appeared in a film posthumously, the fact that James Dean isn’t anywhere close to being able to give consent is troubling. While his family might have okayed the choice, this really is just another example of Hollywood being out of touch with its actors. So long as the final product gets maid and executive can continue to line their pockets with cash, it doesn’t matter who’s image gets ruined in the process.
A similar thing happened with Rogue One a few years back. Actor Peter Cushing, who had passed away in 1994, had his face digitally placed on another actor to appear in the film. Cushing had always credited his role in the original Star Wars for saving his career, but it was incredibly off putting to see a dead man walking and talking on screen. Disney was seemingly more in love with its technology than doing right by the actor whose face it had copied.
There could potentially be some use for technology like this (maybe in an educational capacity), but resurrecting actors for new projects long after their death’s is a rocky moral ground that I really don’t want to be a part of.
Chris Evans, Elijah Wood and More Criticize James Dean CGI Casting: “This Shouldn’t Be a Thing” [The Hollywood Reporter]