For reasons beyond me, the late James Dean is being digitally restored for Anton Ernst’s upcoming Vietnam War-era drama Finding Jack and as you might expect, people are not happy about it (as they should be).
For those less familiar, Dean tragically passed away in a car crash in 1955 at the tender age of 24. Despite only starring in three feature films (Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, Giant), the late actor will forever be remembered as a cultural icon. Dean became the first actor in history to receive posthumous Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Cal Trask in East of Eden at the 28th Academy Awards.
Shortly after the Magic City Films made the announcement, director Ernst released a statement about the decision to cast someone beyond the grave to play Rogan, a lead in his film, rather than casting a living person.
“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,”
The casting choice received a great deal of backlash on social media, with everyone from Captain America star Chris Evans to Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood voicing their displeasure with the potentially awful precedent this sets moving forward.
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
NOPE. this shouldn’t be a thing. https://t.co/RH7jWY5cAG
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) November 6, 2019
Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide says in addition to other famous, deceased personalities; the film “opens up a whole new opportunity for many of our clients who are no longer with us.” TO BE READ AS: “Found a new way to rob graves of dead icons and milk the masses for less!” https://t.co/67Nxze0wLN
— Dylan Sprouse (@dylansprouse) November 6, 2019
James Dean is being resurrected by CGI to appear in an upcoming movie. Don’t ever let anyone tell you things have gotten more difficult for white guys in Hollywood. Even dead ones can still get a job.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) November 7, 2019
This should b interesting!! Inthink it’s the first time this has been done. Glad they got a living person to write the song! Me! pic.twitter.com/fED1QNOWh2
— Diane Warren (@Diane_Warren) 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
Ernst recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about all the negativity surrounding the unpopular casting decision, saying that he really doesn’t understand why everyone is so upset.
“We don’t really understand it. We never intended for this to be a marketing gimmick.”
What are your thoughts on film using CGI to digitally restore the late James Dean? Do you think they have that right or like Williams explained, does this set an “awful precedent for the future of performance?”