A CGI version of James Dean gets cast in new movie and sparks backlash
Technically speaking, you can still work in Hollywood after death. But a lot of people won’t be too happy about it.
The legendary James Dean, one of Hollywood’s brightest motion-picture stars of the 1950s, has been posthumously cast in “Finding Jack,” a Vietnam era action-drama set for 2020.
How, you may ask? CGI. Why? Because the filmmakers can, apparently. And because there appear to be no other living actors who they think can play the role.
Directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh, and their production house Magic City Films, obtained the rights to use Dean’s image from his family and will work with a couple of VFX companies to re-create “a realistic version of James Dean” using “full body” CGI from actual footage and photos of the “Rebel Without a Cause” star, the filmmakers told the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. But another actor will voice him.
Dean, who died in a 1955 car crash at age 24, appeared in only three feature films: “Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden” and “Giant.” Dean’s family views “Finding Jack” as the fourth movie the actor never got to make. He’ll “play” a secondary character named Rogan in the film.
Alki David was unfazed by the chaos surrounding him on a recent afternoon in Hollywood.
“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 told the Reporter.
The filmmakers said that the family supports them and that they will “take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact.”
Preproduction is set to begin this month, with the goal of release on Veterans Day next year.
Representatives for Ernst and Magic City Films did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Plenty of living actors took issue with the garish casting decision, as did many on Twitter, who found it ridiculous that the directors couldn’t find another actor to play the part.
“Avengers: Endgame” star Chris Evans and “Lord of the Rings” alum Elijah Wood were among the vocal dissenters who bashed the move.
“I’m sure he’d be thrilled,” Evans wrote sarcastically. “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.”
“NOPE. this shouldn’t be a thing,” Wood tweeted.
“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,” she tweeted. “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.”
Even Grammy winner Diane Warren, who was tapped to write music for “Finding Jack,” tweeted that she was “glad they got a living person to write the song.”
Here’s a look at some of the scathing comments:
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.