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Bruce Willis becomes the Hollywood pioneer in selling his likeness.

by John Paul
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Bruce Willis becomes the first Hollywood celebrity to sell his likeness for use in deep-fake products is Bruce Willis. Beginning with his debut performance on the ABC series Moonlighting in 1985, Willis has gained popularity for his numerous film and television roles over the following 40 years. Soon after, he made his breakthrough as an action hero, John McClane, in 1988’s Die Hard, a role he eventually played in four sequels. In addition, Willis acted in many low-budget direct-to-video productions in his later years of acting.

Willis’ family stated earlier this year that he quit acting after receiving an aphasia diagnosis. It’s a neurological illness that negatively affects their ability to listen, read, and speak. Naturally, therefore, it deeply impacted Willis because, as an actor, he must learn and recite lines. Many people believed that Willis’ diagnosis and subsequent retirement meant that viewers would never see the actor again on television, but deepfake technology may change that.

The Telegraph reports that Willis is the first Hollywood actor to sell his likeness. Willis signed his rights over to Deepcake. As a result, the US company can create Willis’ “digital twin” for screen usage.

In 2021, Willis appeared in a commercial for the Russian phone carrier MegaFon using contemporary deep fake technology. The actor’s visage was digitally transferred onto another performer to make him appear in the commercial without ever having been on a set. Willis said in a statement that he was happy with how the project came out since it offered him the chance to “travel back in time.” It’s unclear whether Deepcake has total authority over Willis’ likeness outside of that commercial or if his estate has the final say about how it will be used moving forward. Nevertheless, this might be a way for Willis, whose acting career is drawing to an end, to remain somewhat active.

Deepfake technology has advanced in recent years, raising more ethical questions about resembling someone on screen. Others consider it insulting to a person’s legacy, while some consider it a good way to commemorate renowned actors. In Willis’ case, there may be no cause for alarm because the actor has consented to see where this could go. The Star Wars franchise has previously demonstrated the possibilities of the technology in Rogue One, The Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett. In a similar spirit, it’s conceivable that Willis’ digital doppelganger might play John McClane in a future Die Hard film. It will be intriguing to see where Bruce Willis’ current foray into an unfamiliar area leads.



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