Remember when Richard Linklater took 12 whole years to film Boyhood so we could watch the actors age in real time? Turns out he could have just waited another nine and saved himself all that effort.
Director Robert Zemeckis is taking this alternate route with his new movie Here, which will apply AI de-aging technology to national treasures Tom Hanks and Robin Wright. Since the film is an adaptation of Richard McGuire’s graphic novel of the same name, which follows the inhabitants of a single room over many years, it “simply wouldn’t work without our actors seamlessly transforming into younger versions of themselves,” Zemeckis said, per The Hollywood Reporter.
This particular flavor of Black Mirror-esque technology comes from artificial intelligence company Metaphysic, a.k.a. the masterminds/evil geniuses behind all those eerily accurate Tom Cruise and Bill Hader deepfakes from the past few years. The company announced today that it had entered into a “strategic partnership” with talent company CAA to further develop their tools for Hollywood. They currently boast the ability to perform “high-resolution photorealistic faceswaps and de-aging effects on top of actors’ performances live and in real-time without the need for further compositing or VFX work.”
People have been hypothesizing about the potential irreversible societal damage of technology like this for years now, and depending on which side of the AI debate you’re on, that day could be almost here.
Zemeckis (himself no stranger to the uncanny valley), however, is full steam ahead on the robot revolution. “Having tested every flavor of face replacement and de-aging technology available today, Metaphysic are clearly the global leaders in feature-quality AI content and the perfect choice for this incredibly challenging, emotional film,” he said in a statement.
Paul Bettany and Kelly Reilly also appear in the film, which is currently scheduled for a 2024 release. Will we all be watching exclusively from the metaverse by then? Only time will tell.