Bruce Willis, everyone’s favourite action movie star, might be making a return to screens thank to deepfake technology. Willis retired earlier in 2022, citing a diagnosis of Aphasia; a language disorder which contributes to difficulties in speech and articulation.
This retirement brought an end to a decades long career in which Willis has starred in some of the best movies around around. In the final phase of his career, the actor has taken on roles in smaller budget B movies.
Now, Willis has signed a deal which allows the deepfake tech firm, Deepcake, to use his face in digital reconstructions. The company’s website has as promotional video of the technology in action, showing Willis’s face being transferred onto other actors.
The video was accompanied by a statement, in which the retired actor said “I liked the precision of my character. It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time. The neural network was trained on content of “Die Hard” and “Fifth Element”, so my character is similar to the images of that time.”
The technology could see Willis – or more accurately, a digital reconstruction of his face – return to movies without actually having do any acting. Deepfake technology has been used increasingly in recent years, most notably (and controversially) in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, to return younger versions of actors to the screen.
The news follows the recent announcement that, similarly, James Earl Jones had signed over his voice rights to allow for an AI reconstruction of his voice to continue to be used for Darth Vader in Star Wars movies. It forms part of a broader conversation about the use of deepfake technology in cinema, as the field is advancing, and the ethics that come with it.
Whether you have misgivings or not, audiences can now expect to see Willis shooting guns and fist fighting in science fiction movies and action flicks once more, as the technology to continues improving at a rapid rate.
If you’re a fan of Die Hard, check out our guide to the best ’80s movies of all time.