We’ve been humming the Foo Fighters’ song “Stacked Actors” all morning, ever since we saw this story from the Daily Mail, via the Huffington Post, in which a past associate of George Lucas claims that the movie impresario behind the Star Wars series is planning to make a movie featuring computer-generated likenesses of various dead Hollywood stars of yesteryear.
“You could do it but you can’t get a perfect actor,” Lucas said at the time. “
Acting is a human endeavor and the amount of talent and craft that goes into it is massive – and can a composite reproduce that?”
But the proverbial train already has left the station. A 1987 film short, “Rendez-vous a Montreal,” featured relatively crude “synthetic” versions of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart. As
this article from the trade publication Digital Content Producer details, after
actor Oliver Reed died during the shooting of Ridley Scott’s 2000 film “Gladiator,” technicians nevertheless were able to cobble together a digital likeness of him to insert in a final scene. More recently, Monroe and Steve McQueen, among others, have been resurrected digitally so they could be cast in TV commercials, and digital scans of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger were used to recreate him for the 2009 film “Terminator Salvation.”
As this recent Forbes article details, the enormous success of director James Cameron’s 2009 film“Avatar,” which was to CGI version of actors what the shot-through-the-roof scene in Citizen Kane was to cinematography, may portend the future. Perhaps the most likely candidate for digital resurrection, Forbes reports, is martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. An existing cast of Lee’s face would enable digital artists to create a convincing likeness of him. That means that someday, we may actually get to see a remake of Lee’s, last, unfinished kung fu masterpiece, “Game of Death,” as he intended it (rather than the cheesy version released after his 1973 death, which employed doubles juxtaposed with clips of the real Lee). If there’s a good excuse for George Lucas to rethink his position on CGI reanimation of the dead, that might be it.