In what someday may be seen as significant as Al Jolson becoming the first actor to speak on film back in 1927’s The Jazz Singer, Bruce Willis has become the first star to sign his likeness over to a deepfake company.
The actor, who retired while revealing an aphasia diagnosis earlier this year, could soon be back on the big screen thanks to the tech from Deepcake, which uses machine learning to create realistic digital doppelgängers of famous faces.
The technology in the hands of other companies has been used to digitally de-age actors for movies and TV, shedding nearly four decades from Mark Hamill‘s face for Luke Skywalker’s recent appearance in The Book of Boba Fett.
However, this is the first time a famous actor has inked a deal with a company to give it permission to use his likeness in future projects.
Willis first worked with the U.S.-based company for a mobile phone commercial that ran overseas: His likeness was seamlessly transplanted onto a Russian actor, and Willis was apparently so impressed, he signed over his likeness.
“I liked the precision with which my character turned out,” Willis said of the advertisement. “It’s a mini-movie in my usual action-comedy genre. For me, it is a great opportunity to go back in time.”
He added, “With the advent of modern technology, even when I was on another continent, I was able to communicate, work and participate in the filming…”
For Willis, whose degenerative condition has effectively ended his career, the tech could keep him beating up bad guys for decades to come — all while looking like he did in his prime.
Don’t be surprised if other celebs make similar deals in an industry where age isn’t just a number.
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