James Dean lives again! Grave mistake or divine inspiration?


James Dean lives again! Grave mistake or divine inspiration?

Why can’t movie stars rest in peace? Because too many people make too much money out of resurrecting them

Robbie Collin

Few Hollywood icons are more famously dead than James Dean, who perished in a car crash at 24 years old with just three films under his belt. Yet next year – the 65th anniversary of his death – he’ll be back in a fourth. The Vietnam war drama Finding Jack will co-star a computer-generated version of Dean, after a deal was brokered between the actor’s estate and the production company Magic House Films. His “performance” will be built from old footage and photos digitally mapped onto a CGI avatar, while another actor will supply his voice. 

“This opens up a whole new opportunity for many of our clients who are no longer with us,” said Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide, a management company that controls the rights to a number of late actors’ images, including Dean’s. (The estates of Burt Reynolds, Ingrid Bergman, Jane Russell and Christopher Reeve are also on their books.)

It all sounds very futuristic, bordering on dystopian. But in fact the age of cinematic resurrection is already upon us. The other week at the Tokyo Film Festival, for instance, I saw a new Japanese production whose star has been dead since 1996...

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