AI is Making Stars like Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford Look Younger in Movies


I recently went to the cinema to see the latest Indiana Jones movie. I had seen the trailers and written about the use of AI and deepfake to de-age movie stars. I was, therefore, curious to see exactly how good a job the the technology would do…and I wasn’t disappointed!

The movie was classic Indiana Jones, even without Spielberg in the director’s chair. My only criticism of the movie is that it was too long and could have been an hour shorter and just as exciting.

However, my interest to see a de-aged Harrison Ford was immediately satisfied with the opening scenes, which last a good 10 to 15 minutes (I wasn’t counting, but it seemed that long.) The movies starts with a 40 year old Harrison Ford fighting the Nazis in World War 2 in a action packed opening that ends in a long sequence of fighting on the roof of a speeding train.

Of course, the actual Harrison Ford is 80 years old, but the movie made you believe he was 40. He looked 40 and he acted like he was 40. And although I was looking hard to see the join, I couldn’t see any signs that I was watching a deepfaked version of Ford.

It wasn’t until the scene cuts to Ford in modern times New York that you really stop believing that Harrison is 40. Wearing only his boxer shorts in a sweltering New York apartment, Ford looks every day of his 80 years of age.

“That is my actual face at that age,” the actor explained on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “They have this artificial intelligence (AI) programme. It can go through every foot of film that Lucasfilm owns because I did a bunch of movies for them and they have all this footage including film that wasn’t printed: stock. They could mine it from where the light is coming from, the expression. But that’s my actual face. Then I put little dots on my face and I say the words and they make it. It’s fantastic.”

Ford is not the only actor to get a digital facelift with an assist from AI. Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and other cast members will play younger versions of themselves in Here, directed by Robert Zemeckis, thanks to a tool that the AI company Metaphysic says can create “high-resolution photorealistic faceswaps and de-ageing effects on top of actors’ performances live and in real time without the need for further compositing or VFX work”.

Metaphysic’s website proclaims: “We are world leaders in creating AI generated content that looks real” and suggests: “Use AI to create your own hyperreal avatar”. The company has just struck a deal with the Creative Artists Agency “to develop generative AI tools and services for talent”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Here’s The Thing: Do we really want our favourite characters going on forever, well past their sell by date?

In Martin Scorsese’s 2019 movie, The Irishman, AI was used to knock four decades off Al Pacino, then 79, and Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, both 76. But, IMHO, there was something unreal and a bit creepy about the way the actors looked on film.

You could say that prosthetics, make-up and cosmetic surgery have been used for ever to make someone look younger. But somehow it just doesn’t seem the same. Because not matter how good the tech is to make the face look 40, if the body is 80 (like Harrison Ford’s) then it won’t walk, run and jump like a 40 year old.

Unless it was Lee Majors, of course!

Further Reading

About The Author

Rick Huckstep is a writer, podcaster and YouTuber with a passion for emerging technologies and the way they will shape tomorrow’s digital world.

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This article was written and created with the use of AI tools including NotionAI and Canva.



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