It’s been well over six decades since the tragic death of Hollywood legend James Dean, but that’s not stopping one film production from casting him in a leading role.
Thanks to CGI (computer-generated imagery) technology, the late East of Eden (1955) star will be posthumously featured in an upcoming Vietnam War-era film called Finding Jack, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
After obtaining the rights to use Dean’s image from his family, directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh revealed their plans to digitally resurrect the much-beloved actor under their newly-launched production company, Magic City Films, on Wednesday.
In the wake of the announcement, fans of the deceased icon — including an abundance of skeptical Hollywood actors, Chris Evans and Elijah Wood among them — have taken to social media to share why they think the film company’s decision is a disrespectful one.
On Sept. 30, 1955, Dean died at the age of 24, having been killed instantly in a fatal car accident. It occurred less than a month before the premiere of perhaps his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause.
“I’m sure he’d be thrilled,” tweeted Evans, 38, on the news, referring to Dean.
The Captain America star continued: “Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso, or write a couple new John Lennon tunes.”
I’m sure he’d be thrilled 🙄
This is awful.
Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes.
The complete lack of understanding here is shameful. https://t.co/hkwXyTR4pu
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) November 6, 2019
“The complete lack of understanding here is shameful,” he concluded.
Wood, the former Lord of the Rings star, simply wrote: “Nope. This shouldn’t be a thing.”
NOPE. this shouldn’t be a thing. https://t.co/RH7jWY5cAG
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) November 6, 2019
Here’s what some other fans of Dean had to say on the controversial matter:
Yeah, that's not James Dean.
It's his face on a motion capture performance and an "anonymous" actor providing voice pattern and choices.
I'd like to know how it will be credited.
How the real actors will be paid.
And how little this team understands the acting craft https://t.co/MkIQHrB5Y0
— Julie Ann Emery (@julieannemery) November 6, 2019
I have talked to friends about this for YEARS and no one ever believed me that the industry would stoop this low once tech got better. Publicity stunt or not, this is puppeteering the dead for their ‘clout’ alone and it sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance. https://t.co/elS1BrbDGv
— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) November 6, 2019
I think it's totally cool when living actors are digitally de-aged on screen, but I simply cannot be on board with digitally resurrecting long-dead actors. Even if his family approved it, making James Dean the star of a movie he never agreed to be in is impossibly gross. STOP.
— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) November 6, 2019
As reported by the Associated Press, Ernst and Golykh said in an official Magic City Films statement that they “tremendously” respect Dean’s Legacy.
“The movie subject matter is one of hope and love, and is still relevant like the theme of the film we are portraying,” the e-mail continued.
They added: “There still a lot of James Dean fans worldwide who would love to see their favourite icon back on screen. There always be critics, and all we can do is tell a great story with humanity and grace.”
Dean’s likeness was granted to Magic City Films in partnership with CMG Worldwide — the company that represents the actor’s family along with intellectual property rights associated with many other deceased personalities, including Neil Armstrong, Bette Davis and Burt Reynolds.
Chairman and CEO of CMG, Mark Roesler, defended the usage of Dean’s likeness, saying that the company has represented his family for decades.
Furthermore, he noted that Dean still resonates with audiences, accrediting that to the star’s “official” Instagram — which, as of this writing, has amassed more than 183,000 followers.
Roesler continued: “James Dean was known as Hollywood’s ‘rebel.’ He famously said ‘If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live after he’s died, then maybe he was a great man. Immortality is the only true success.’
“What was considered rebellious in the ’50s is very different than what is rebellious today, and we feel confident that he would support this modern day act of rebellion.”
Finding Jack will serve as a silver screen adaptation of Gareth Crocker’s 2008 novel about the U.S. military’s abandonment of canine units following the Vietnam War.
Shooting for Finding Jack is scheduled to begin next weekend.
— With files from the Associated Press
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