Turns out you won’t be seeing a digital Bruce Willis anytime soon, as the retired actor has refuted reports that he has sold the rights to make a CGI version of himself to a Russian AI company.
On Saturday, representatives for Willis told BBC News that the actor had “no partnership or agreement” with the Russian company Deepcake to create a digital copy of himself using machine learning technology, with Deepcake itself confirming that no deal was in place. The supposed deal was first reported by The Daily Mail on Sep. 27.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” a spokesperson for Deepcake said.
Willis announced his retirement from acting this past March after being diagnosed with aphasia, a brain disorder that progressively damages one’s ability to communicate through speech and writing. Last year, Willis worked with Deepcake to create a “digital twin” of him for use in an ad for the Russian telecom company Megafon, but Deepcake says that was for a one-time only project.
The concept of artificial intelligence being used to recreate retired or deceased entertainers has become more prominent over the last decade, with rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg performing alongside a hologram of Tupac Shakur at Coachella in 2012. A 2014 live-action/animated hybrid drama “The Congress” explored the idea with Robin Wright playing a fictionalized version of herself as she sells the rights to a Hollywood studio to create a digital version of herself for use in future films.
And just this past week, a Vanity Fair article revealed that 91-year-old actor James Earl Jones has given Lucasfilm and Ukrainian AI company Respeecher the right to use recordings of his voice to recreate his performance as Darth Vader in future “Star Wars” films and TV series as he has retired from the role. Respeecher’s work was heard this year in the Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”