A virtual double, produced by a Russian company specializing in commercial deepfakes, will use the face of the American actor, diagnosed with aphasic, on new projects, in particular advertising.
He wasn’t quite gone, he’s not quite back. A few months after ending his career, Bruce Willis reappeared on a few screens in a project that has very little to do with his latest films. The actor appeared last year alongside Kazakh comedian Azamat Musagaliev, in a brief pastiche of an action film – and incidentally an advertisement for the Russian mobile operator MegaFon. Impeccable tuxedos, threatening bombshells and a touch of humor, it’s all there. Everything, except Bruce Willis, who was not present at the filming of the clip.
Little noticed at the time of its broadcast, the video resurfaced a few months later, after the announcement of the actor’s early retirement. His appearance was painstakingly reproduced by the Russian company Deepcake, which signed a contract with Bruce Willis, allowing him to use his face. “I liked the precision of my character, said the interested party in 2021, in a press release from MegaFan released when the project was announced. With the advent of modern technology, I was able to communicate, work and participate in filming, even while being on another continent. It’s a new and interesting experience for me, and I’m grateful to our team.”
Specializing in the making of ultra-realistic “digital twins”, Deepcake produced this scene using deepfake technology, these computer-generated images produced using artificial intelligence. For the shoot, Russian actor Konstantin Solovyov lent his silhouette, on which Deepcake engineers then let artificial intelligence apply the model of Bruce Willis’s face, from a database of 34,000 images. of the headlamp corresponding to the desired profile and lighting.
“Part of the future of cinema may lie in the use of digital actors, digital replicas”Deepcake CEO Maria Chmir told Reuters news agency in September 2021. achieve similar results in a much shorter time. “The first video, a trial, took us 15-17 days to make, but we were able to speed up the process afterwards, clarified Maria Chmir. Today we can generate a face in 4K resolution in 3-5 days.”
Apart from deepfake, digital technologies have already been used on the big screen to give new roles to deceased actors – like Peter Cushing, who died in 1994 but is back in the role of Grand Moff Tarkin, for RogueOne the film Star Wars released in 2016. Another variant, this kind of tool can also be used to rejuvenate an actor, like Robert de Niro in The Irishman in 2019, or Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, in 2017.
An option that would not displease Bruce Willis. “It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in timehe had rejoiced last year. The neural network was trained on the content of diehard and Fifth elementso my character is similar to images from that time.” Suffering from aphasia, a disease characterized in particular by language disorders, Bruce Willis has decided to end his acting career, his family announced in March.