James Dean to Be Digitally Resurrected for New Movie

CGI is being used to bring the Hollywood icon back to the big-screen more than six decades after his death in war movie Finding Jack...

James Dean

Well, this is an interesting one… Taking it one step further than that creepy chocolate ad that resurrected Audrey Hepburn for a jaunt around the Amalfi Coast, late Hollywood icon James Dean is being brought back to star in a new feature-length film.

THR reported the news that Dean – the Rebel Without a Cause star who died aged 24 in a car accident in 1955 – will be digitally reanimated to star in a new Vietnam War-set action-drama, Finding Jack.

According to the report, filmmakers Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh obtained permission from Dean’s family to use the actor’s image. VFX houses Imagine Engine (based in Canada) and MOI Worldwide (based in South Africa) will be working together to recreate “a realistic version of James Dean.” His performance will reportedly be built with “full body” CGI, using actual footage and photos as reference, while his voice will be provided by another actor.

Based on Gareth Crocker’s novel, the film tells the story of the bond between a troubled US soldier and a service dog (the “Jack” of the title) in the closing years of the war. Dean is reportedly playing a character named Rogan, the lead’s commanding officer.

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“We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact,” co-director Ernst told THR. “The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”

Unsurprisingly, the news has gone down like a lead balloon on social media, with some high-profile figures joining the chorus of “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should…”

Erstwhile Captain America Chris Evans tweeted that the “complete lack of understanding here is shameful,” while Elijah Wood put it simply: “Nope. This shouldn’t be a thing.”

With all the de-aging and “digital doubles” to be found in Hollywood movies at the moment, resurrecting a dead actor was always going to be a next-step possibility – but it seems few people saw it coming so quickly. The moral implications of such a move are huge and are sure to provoke a lot of debate in the months and years to come.

Finding Jack is entering production soon in time for a mooted 2020 release.