Nearly seven months after word broke he would be stepping away from acting, reports indicating that Bruce Willis made the decision to sell the rights to his likeness using deepfake technology have been debunked. During the actor’s 40-year long career, Willis has appeared in several television series and over a hundred films, having achieved movie stardom playing the role of John McClane in the popular action franchise, Die Hard. Willis was also known for his multiple collaborations with M. Night Shyamalan on The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Glass, as well as a variety of blockbuster projects, including The Last Boy Scout, The Fifth Element and Armageddon.
Recent reports indicated that Willis had signed over the rights to use his likeness to create a digital twin, as he had stepped away from his career due to his aphasia diagnosis. Deepcake is a US firm that specializes in creating deepfakes, a developing technology that allows for celebrities to appear in films and advertisements without ever having to step on set. While it is unclear where exactly this rumor first emerged, Willis had previously appeared in a commercial for a Russian phone service MegaFon where his face was digitally imposed over another actor. At the time, the actor expressed excitement about the technology providing an “opportunity to go back in time,” though now, he may not be as keen to rely on it as reports suggested.
Representatives for the actor reached out to Yahoo Entertainment to dismiss reports that Bruce Willis sold his deepfake likeness rights as false. They stated that the actor has no official agreement or partnership with Deepcake. A representative from the company also confirmed that while they had previously worked with Willis, the rights to use his image belong solely to him.
Why Bruce Willis Has Stepped Away From Acting
Earlier this year, Willis’ family announced his retirement due to an aphasia diagnosis. This is a condition that affects the brain’s ability to process language comprehension, something that has made his ability to perform increasingly challenging. Several of those who have worked closely with Willis in recent years have reported concerns for the actor’s mental wellbeing. Randall Emmett, a producer who worked with Willis on over 20 films, claimed that the actor needed his lines fed to him through an earpiece. Several others on the set of 2022’s White Elephant reported that actor appeared confused, even asking “Why am I here?”
Willis’ decision to retire from acting comes after a career spanning decades, a testament of his dedication to filmmaking. This decision did not come easily for the actor, his family expressed that Willis’ career meant so much to him. In spite of retirement, Bruce Willis currently has three movies in the pipeline that have wrapped filming, allowing fans an opportunity to see the actor on screen one last time. Deepfake technology has already been successfully used in several Star Wars films to “de-age” actors or create performances from deceased actors, as the technology continues to improve and become more commonplace, it will be interesting to see how ethics and rights of “digital twins” will play out.
Source: Yahoo Entertainment