The technology behind Deepfake, which allows you to swap faces on bodies in videos in a disturbingly realistic manner, often feels like a violation at a deeply personal level. But a new Deepfake video by YouTuber Shamook feels almost right as it swaps out the lead actor in Solo: A Star Wars Story with a young Harrison Ford.
The resulting video, which is a few minutes long, reimagines scenes from the film, with lead actor Alden Ehrenreich's face is replaced by Harrison Ford, as Han Solo takes his first steps into the life of the space pirate that fans know and love from the Star Wars movies. The icing on the cake is a brief appearance by a young Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover, whose face has also been swapped with Billy Dee Williams.
The result is a Solo movie starring a young Harrison Ford and an equally young Billy Dee, aka the film of fans' dreams. In fact, many of the comments under the Deepfake video are begging Shamook to apply the same effect to the rest of the film as well, to give us a complete Han Solo origin movie starring a young Ford.
Of course, the complexity of the program and computing required to make such a video makes the possibility of Deepfaking the entire movie pretty remote. In the meantime, fans have the teaser footage to dwell on and imagine what could have been.
Directed by Ron Howard, from a script by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, Solo: A Star Wars Story featured a lead cast comprising of Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Michael K. Williams and Woody Harrelson.
Ehrenreich was tasked with the huge task of putting a fresh spin on the character of Han immortalized by Ford, and most critics agreed he rose to the challenge. But the film was not as much of a success as Disney had hoped, and plans for a sequel were shelved, although Ehrenreich has stated in the past that he would be willing to return to the franchise for the right story:
"It depends on what it is. It depends on how it's done. It depends if it feels innate to the story."
In many ways, the success of The Mandalorian in telling the tale of an outlaw rebel with a soft side scuppered any chances of the fledgling Solo series finding new takers. The shadow cast by Ford's original performance also made it difficult for fans to accept Ehrenreich in the role.
For now, fans of Ford's take on the character have the original Star Wars trilogy to look back on, while fans of Ehrenreich's performance have Solo: A Star Wars Story to enjoy. Then there is the particular subset of the fandom that wants to watch Ehrenreich's body and voice with Ford's face attached on top, who now have the Deepfake video to pore over. And that is the true magic of the internet.