Paramount released a new featurette and images from Ang Lee's upcoming action thriller, Gemini Man. The film stars Will Smith (Aladdin) as both the fifty year old assassin and his twenty three year old self that's hunting him. The featurette takes a quick look at the technology used to create Will's younger self.
Will Smith is seen using performance capture technology in a scene with co-star Clive Owen (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets). VFX Supervisor Bill Westenhofer, however, insists that it's new.
"This is not de-aging. This is not face-replacement. What you see for Junior is a completely digital creation 100% driven by Will Smith's performance."
Motion-capture technology has become commonplace in big budget and tentpole films today. The early stages of the technology was first popularized by Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Visual Effects team were able to capture expert performance-capture artist Andy Serkis' actions and digitally paint the creature Gollum over him.
By the time the technology was used in 2005's King Kong, creators could capture Serkis' facial motions as well. The technology has continued to advance, allowing Serkis to use it in several subsequent films such as the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. James Cameron's box-office smash hit, Avatar, was known for helping to revolutionize the technology. The director promises the same from the announced Avatar sequels. Which seems to be the thing to do because Gemini Man Producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, made similar claims.
"The technology we're inventing is something Ang [Lee] has been wanting to do for a long time. He's making a leap forward no other director has even tried before."
Similarly, de-aging technology has been running rampant through Marvel films in particular. Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg spent all of their screen-time as their younger selves convincingly in Captain Marvel. Although the featurette doesn't exactly reveal how the technology is different from the run-of-the-mill performance capture or de-aging, Will Smith is confident about the experience.
"I couldn't have played Junior at 23 years old, but now I am able to understand and capture both characters because of the amount of experience I've had as an actor."
Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee and produced by renown producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger. Also starring are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong.
Hopefully Visionary director Ang Lee (Life of Pi) will be able to give Will Smith a fresh film. After a series of lukewarm responses to his projects, including the critically despised Suicide Squad and Bright, the beloved actor could use a win. Ang Lee's Gemini Man is expected to open on October 11. The Gemini Man Featurette comes from Sony Pictures.