- A CGI version of James Dean has been cast as a secondary lead in the upcoming Vietnam War movie, Finding Jack.
- The directors and studio received permission from Dean’s family to use his image, however, many do not think it is okay to use an actor in a film posthumously.
- Stars like Chris Evans and Zelda Williams condemned the use of James Dean in this manner, seeing as there is no way to know if Dean would actually want to be in this movie. This started a widespread online discussion on the practice of using CGI to bring stars who have passed onto screens.
James Dean Cast in Film
Critics are speaking out against James Dean being cast in a movie—60 years after his death.
Directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh are partnering on the film Finding Jack, which is based on a novel of the same name. It will follow a man who is forced to abandon an injured dog he met while serving in Vietnam. The film is being produced by Magic City Films and Dean is set to play the secondary lead in the story.
Dean suffered an untimely death in 1955 after a car accident in northern California at the age of 24. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Dean’s performance will be constructed via “full body” CGI using actual footage and photos. Another actor will voice him.”
Dean’s family gave the studio permission to use his image for the film.
“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,” Ernst said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”
Ernst also said that they did look at other casting options, but ultimately landed on Dean.
“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,” he added.
Actors and Others Upset by the News
The concept of casting someone in a film posthumously did not sit well with many in the industry. Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, said it sets an “awful precedent for the future of performance.” In fact, Robin Williams’ family restricted the use of his image for at least 25 years after his death in 2014.
Big-name actors also joined the conversation. Avengers star Chris Evans called the decision “awful.”
Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood said, “this shouldn’t be a thing.”
Julie Ann Emery, who has starred in projects like Preacher and Better Call Saul added that it may not give proper credit to the living actor providing Dean’s voice.
“How do Dean’s descendants know that he would WANT to be in a Vietnam movie?” she later asked.
Actors were not the only ones upset about this. An article from Vice pleaded “please don’t do this.”
“For the love of all that is holy, just let his legacy be,” it continued.
Esquire came up with its own suggestions for working actors that would have made a better choice instead of Dean. Their picks ranged from Timothée Chalamet to Harry Styles, to Cardi B and Post Malone, all to say that any living person would be better than a CGI version.
On the other hand, however, some were not as critical of the choice. While their voices were fewer and farther between, some thought that since his family gave it the okay, it should be allowed.
Future and Past Instances
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s piece, Ernst might have future plans to use this kind of technology. Magic City will be working with a Canadian group called Imagine Engine and a South African group MOI Worldwide to produce the CGI, and their list extends past James Dean.
“Our partners in South Africa are very excited about this, as this technology would also be employed down the line to re-create historical icons such as Nelson Mandela to tell stories of cultural heritage significance,” he said.
This is also not the first time a late actor has been used on the screen in this way. In 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Peter Cushing, who died two decades before the film’s release, made an appearance as Grand Moff Tarkin via CGI. He originally played the character in Star Wars: A New Hope. When Rogue One hit theaters, his presence caused its own controversy, with some also thinking it was wrong to do this.
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline) (Los Angeles Magazine)
Justin Bieber Apologizes After Supporting Morgan Wallen’s Music
Bieber said he had no idea the country star had recently faced backlash for using a racial slur.
Justin Bieber Apologizes
Singer Justin Bieber apologized on Wednesday after sharing support for music from embattled country singer Morgan Wallen.
In February, Wallen was caught saying the n-word on a video circulated by TMZ. He was subsequently dropped from major country radio stations and suspended by his label. Still, he has managed to have a successful year so far, and his album — “Dangerous: The Double Album” — has spent months at the top of the carts.
Bieber posted on his Instagram story this week that he was listening to “Dangerous” and said he loved the album. He ended up deleting that post after fans called him out. Bieber later explained that he was unaware of Wallen’s recent controversy.
“I had no idea that the guy’s music I posted was recently found saying racist comments, as you know I don’t support or tolerate any sort of racism or deicrimination,” he wrote on his Instagram story. “I had no idea, I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended.”
Bieber Addresses Previous Controversies
The “Sorry” singer then addressed backlash he previously faced for a similar reason. Two videos surfaced in 2014 depicting Bieber using racial slurs when he was younger. In the first, he was 15-years-old and told a racist joke using the n-word. Bieber was 14-years-old in the second video, where he made a racist parody of his song “One Less Lonely Girl” that likewise included the n-word. He apologized for both at the time and brought them up again on Wednesday in hopes others could learn from his mistakes.
“When I was a kid, I was incredibly ignorant and said some very hurtful racist jokes that were clearly not funny,” he wrote. “I hurt a lot of people, especially the Black people in my life but was fortunate enough to have had them educate me on the horrifying origin of the N-word. This brings those painful memories back up, I will always take ownership for my ignorance and my past because I know I am not that person.“
He added that even though he has already apologized for these remarks, he believes it is important “to bring this up to hopefully educate people who may be ignorant to the topic of racism and how hurtful it is.”
He added that he has a lot left to learn but is thankful for the patience he has received, particularly from the Black community.
Read more: (Entertainment Weekly) (Complex) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Selena Gomez Slams “The Good Fight” for Kidney Transplant Joke
The singer said the reference to her transplant was “tasteless” and encouraged writers to call out these kinds of jokes so they don’t make it on air.
Selena Gomez Addresses Joke About Kidney Transplant
Singer and actress Selena Gomez slammed a recent episode of “The Good Fight” Tuesday after it made a joke about her 2017 kidney transplant.
In one scene of the Paramount+ show, a group of characters brainstorm jokes and then start discussing what subjects are out of bounds. They ultimately agree that necrophilia, autism, and “Selena Gomez’s Kidney transplant” are not to be mentioned.
This led to swift backlash online from people who thought the series was making light of Gomez’s health struggles. Many argued on Twitter that the singer’s battle with Lupus is no laughing matter, prompting Gomez to join the conversation herself.
“I am not sure how writing jokes about organ transplants for television shows has become a thing but sadly it has apparently,” she wrote. “I hope in the next writer’s room when one of these tasteless jokes are presented it’s called out immediately and doesn’t make it on air.”
Gomez also encouraged people to register as organ donors if they are able to do so.
A source close to the production of “The Good Fight,” however, told Variety that some of the anger is being taken out of context.
“If you watch the episode in full, the reference to Selena Gomez is part of a discussion the characters are having about topics that are not okay to make fun of and the idea of cancel culture and being canceled for telling a bad joke,” the source explained. “The reference is that Selena Gomez’s transplant is not something you can joke about.”
Previous Joke in “Saved by the Bell”
Still, some believe that by referencing Gomez’s kidney transplant as something you can’t joke about, the show was in turn making a joke about it.
This is not the first time a show has made headlines for making a quip about Gomez’s procedure. In 2020, a scene from Peacock’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot was removed because it included several characters talking about the situation. In the scene, characters were asking if several people, including Gomez’s ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber and singer Demi Lovato, were secretly Gomez’s organ donor. At one point “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?” is written on a school hallway.
Gomez’s friend Francia Raisa gave her the kidney in an act Gomez previously described as “the ultimate gift and sacrifice.” NBC ended up apologizing for the scene, claiming they had no “intention to make light of Selena’s health.” The network also donated to The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at the University of Southern California.
After the apology, Raisa slammed the joke in “Saved by the Bell” as offensive and dismissive to organ donors. She made no specific remarks about the joke in “The Good Fight” but retweeted Gomez’s posts on the matter.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (Entertainment Weekly) (People)
Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in an uncharacteristically blunt statement that was heavily criticized online.
Johansson/Disney Lawsuit Gets Bitter
Disney has described a recent lawsuit from “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but Johansson may have just unleashed what is to become an even bigger legal challenge for the House of Mouse.
At the center of this dispute, Johansson alleges she lost $50 million because Disney opted for a dual streaming/theater release of “Black Widow,” which debuted in theaters and for $30 on Disney+ with Premier Access earlier this month.
According to Johansson’s suit, her contract with Disney — which was negotiated prior to any hint of a pandemic — stipulated that “Black Widow” would see an exclusive theater release. Notably, the actress also said her contractual bonuses were tied to the movie’s box office performance, which is an extremely common practice with films featuring A-list celebrities.
Of course, when the pandemic hit — like many other industries — movies were upended. Pandemic-related changes meant that despite having an initial release date of May 2020, Marvel fans wouldn’t get a chance to see “Black Widow” for over a year.
Still, Johansson said she tried to contact Disney to renegotiate her contract prior to the film’s ultimate release, but she claims the company was unresponsive.
On Thursday, she then filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, with her attorney arguing that “Disney has enjoyed the benefits of having one of Hollywood’s top actresses promote its wholly owned subscription service at no additional cost to Disney, and with the intended effect of taking money out of that actress’ own pocket.”
Later Thursday, Disney claimed that it has “fully complied” with Johansson’s contract and that the streamed release of the film “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in its uncharacteristically blunt statement.
Are Emma Stone and Emily Blunt Next?
Speaking of blunt, it was reported Friday that both Emily Blunt and Emma Stone may also file lawsuits against Disney’s dual streaming release of their films.
In fact, according to an exclusive newsletter run by former Hollywood Reporter Editor Matt Belloni, Stone “is said to be weighing her options” over the dual release of “Cruella” in May. Meanwhile, he suggested Blunt could also take action or speak out following this weekend’s release of “Jungle Cruise.”
Belloni went on to describe Disney as “notoriously difficult to deal with” regarding such matters and claimed that many have simply been waiting for someone powerful enough to speak out.
Disney Criticized for Its Response
Much of the public perception of the situation has led to overwhelming support for Johansson’s camp. Online, a slew of people lambasted Disney’s response, with many calling it a deflection.