Resurrecting Dean’s face is a flat-out disgrace

The film industry isn’t just recycling movie plots. The next unoriginal step is recycling actors…who have been dead for 64 years.

Despite being in only three movies (he played very bit parts in a few others, but I’m not counting those), James Dean has been considered one of the best actors ever, right up there with the likes of Marlon Brando and Orson Welles. Dean died in a car crash in 1955 at age 24. His last film, “Giant,” was released posthumously.

Magic City Films, a production studio in Alabama, recently announced it would digitally resurrect the “Rebel Without a Cause” heartthrob for the upcoming film “Finding Jack,” which focuses on soldiers in the Vietnam War. His face will be superimposed on the body of another actor.

It’s all legit, too. The studio got permission from Dean’s family to use his likeness.

In a public statement, the Dean family lawyer, Mark Roesler, said, “Despite his untimely death at the age of 24, technology allows us to continue to honor Jimmy’s legacy and inspiration to so many people. We have represented his family for 38 years and they are confident that Jimmy’s rebellious and trailblazing personality is consistent with being the first to fearlessly embrace this new technology for Hollywood.”

The film’s director, Anton Ernst, has said that this will introduce a new generation to James Dean.

Even with the family’s permission, this idea of bringing back the dead is terrible for all sorts of reasons.

Firstly, it’s impossible to know if James Dean himself would approve of this. Do you think Kurt Cobain would’ve wanted to be in the video game “Guitar Hero”?

Secondly, this is taking work away from a living actor. Who wants to be known as the guy who played James Dean playing a soldier?

Thirdly, while innovative in a sense, the artistic merit is non-existent. The movie studio is relying on something, or in this case someone, from the past instead of taking a chance on someone new. This is like when Tupac showed up from beyond the grave at the 2012 Coachella via hologram.

Fourthly, the Dean family lawyer talks about how the CGI face swap will continue Jimmy’s legacy. You kiddin’ me? James Franco, Fry from “Futurama,” anyone who has ever worn a Harrington jacket, TOMMY FLIPPIN WISEAU!!! Just because Dean is gone doesn’t mean his legacy is gone, too.

“Resurrecting” an actor is possible, but this James Dean instance is not one of the better examples.

Perhaps some of you remember the 2004 film “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” a movie inspired by sci-fi and adventure comics from the 1930s. In it, the villain is played by Laurence Olivier, an actor who had been dead since 1989. You never see Olivier in person. He’s presented as a projection in the film, and all the audio and video are from when the “Othello” star was still alive. I’m not gonna say “Sky Captain” is an amazing movie, but the Olivier aspect is clever.

I’m kinda on the fence about this next one — Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Again, the actor had been dead for quite some time when they digitally rendered him into a new movie. You can argue that because Cushing’s portrayal of Tarkin is an already established, popular character in the Star Wars universe that it made sense to recreate his likeness.

Finally, that whole “introducing Dean to a new generation” idea is lame. That’s like Disney and their live-action remakes. You want to get a new generation aware of James Dean? Re-release “East of Eden” in theaters.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)