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From the moment visual effects became advanced enough to recreate the performance of an actor who is no longer alive, this moment was probably inevitable.
A new action-drama called Finding Jack is in the works that will star … James Dean, writes The Hollywood Reporter. Yes, the same James Dean who died in 1955. The film will use CGI to create a “realistic version” of Dean utilizing photos and footage of him, and another actor will provide the voice.
And this isn’t just for a small appearance, either. Dean, according to the Reporter, has a “secondary lead role” in Finding Jack. The legendary actor’s family has signed off on the project, and director Anton Ernst said the family sees this “as his fourth movie.” Dean died in a car crash when he was 24.
“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” Ernst said, seemingly suggesting with a straight face that not a single person was suited to the role but an actor who has been dead since the Eisenhower administration.
In recent years, numerous films have brought deceased actors to life, including 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which Peter Cushing’s performance as Grand Moff Tarkin was constructed using CGI even though he died in 1994. But while Cushing did once actually play Tarkin in the original Star Wars, this is something different: the casting of a long-deceased actor in an entirely new project that he never had anything to do with.
This could signal the shape of things to come in Hollywood, with Ernst promising the technology will “also be employed down the line to re-create historical icons such as Nelson Mandela.” Real life makes Black Mirror look like a documentary once again. Brendan Morrow