James Dean CGI 'casting' angers Avengers star Chris Evans


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James Dean in Giant and Chris EvansImage copyright
Getty Images

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Captain America star Chris Evans [R] does not think James Dean would be “thrilled”

Plans to feature a CGI version of long-dead actor James Dean in upcoming film Finding Jack have been greeted with scorn by some Hollywood stars.

Magic City Films obtained the rights to use Dean’s image from his family.

This is awful… the complete lack of understanding here is shameful,” tweeted Avengers actor Chris Evans, while Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood added: “NOPE.”

Producer Anton Ernst said he will try to keep Dean’s “legacy firmly intact”.

“We feel very honoured that his family supports us,” he said.

“The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”

Zelda Williams, daughter of late actor Robin, was among others to express reservations, accusing the producers of “puppeteering the dead”.

“It sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance,” she tweeted. “We should let the great performers of the past rest.”

Dean, star of Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, died in 1955 aged 24.

He will be recreated in the action drama through a mixture of old footage and computer-generated creations projected over stand-ins.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Finding Jack will tell of a US soldier who nurses a wounded yellow Labrador back to health while serving in Vietnam.

The film is based on a 2013 novel by Gareth Crocker that was inspired by the abandonment of more than 10,000 military dogs at the end of the conflict.

Dean will “appear” as a secondary character called Rogan, a platoon leader whose life is saved by the film’s titular animal.

“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan,” said Ernst. “After months of research, we decided on James Dean.”

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Lucasfilm

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Carrie Fisher as she appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

CGI – which stands for computer generated imagery – is increasingly being used in films, television and advertising to resurrect performers from another era.

Audrey Hepburn’s likeness was used in a 2013 advert, while Peter Cushing’s face was digitally mapped onto another actor’s features for 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The same film featured a computer-generated version of Carrie Fisher that recreated how she appeared in the original Star Wars film, 1977’s Episode IV – A New Hope.

Oliver Reed and Paul Walker are among other actors whose performances were “completed” after their deaths using computer imagery and stand-ins.

More recently, “de-ageing” technology was used to enable Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci to play younger versions of themselves in crime drama The Irishman.

Finding Jack is scheduled for release in November 2020.

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