Retired action movie star Bruce Willis has become the first Hollywood actor to sell his image and likeness rights to a firm that creates movies and commercials using AI-powered deepfake technology.
DeepCake (opens in new tab) says that they hired the “digital twin” of the Die Hard actor so his digital likeness and voice can be superimposed onto the body double so that the star doesn’t even need to make it to a film set. From Star Wars (opens in new tab) to just weird videos online (opens in new tab), deepfake technology can change video content in scary and exciting ways.
The firm wasted no time creating ads with digital Willis like the Russian phone ad above. The hope is that other actors will hop on board and let their digital twins star in productions they otherwise couldn’t do. The example used is often a scheduling conflict that could prevent an actor from making filming, and the fake can step in as an understudy, so to speak.
According to a post on the DeepCake site, Willis said that it was a “great opportunity for me to go back in time” when commenting on the accuracy of his younger, digital self. He also mentioned that AI “neural network was trained on content of “Die Hard” and “Fifth Element”; this means that character on-screen is modeled after ’90s Bruce Willis during the peak of his career.
Bruce Willis has recently retired (opens in new tab) from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disorder that affects speech and language skills forcing him to step away from acting indefinitely. The firm is currently working on landing similar deals with the estates of retired and deceased actors allowing their digital twins to appear in all sorts of content.
“With the advent of the modern technology, I could communicate, work and participate in the filming, even being on another continent,” Willis wrote. “It’s a brand new and interesting experience for me, and I am grateful to our team.”
We have seen how deepfake technology can go terribly wrong (opens in new tab), but it’ll be curious to see which other Hollywood actors decide to start sending their digital twins for gigs.