In 1955, actor James Dean was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 24. His career, while short-lived, was incredibly successful, with Dean becoming the first actor to be nominated posthumously for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The three movies he starred in- East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant- have been declared film classics and elevated Dean to a pop culture icon of the 1950’s.
However despite the fact that Dean has been dead for over 60 years, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the actor will be “starring” in an upcoming Vietnam war drama called Finding Jack. The movie is an adaptation of a book of the same name by author Gareth Crocker and follows the thousands of military trained dogs that were abandoned after the Vietnam War ended. This project is being directed by Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh.
Dean has been cast as an important character named Rogan, but right now you’re probably wondering how exactly is a guy who died six decades ago acting in a movie? Well you see Dean will be recreated with the magic of CGI. Special effects companies Imagine Engine and MOI Worldwide will be working together to recreate Dean’s likeness in CGI form. And, in case you are wondering whether using a dead man’s likeness without his consent is legal, don’t worry because Magic City Films acquired the rights to Dean’s image from his family. So maybe the fact that is is legal should worry you.
Dean is not the first dead actor to be resurrected through CGI. Remember, the late Peter Cushing was famously revived by Disney to “reprise” his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One. And, if this technology keeps improving, it’s probably safe to assume that he will not be the last actor to come back from the grave.
But all these CGI resurrections raise a lot of ethical questions about a person’s ownership of their likeness in entertainment. And why does the studio feel the need to bring James Dean back to life? Wouldn’t hiring a living actor just be easier?