James Cameron on how 'Avatar' technology could keep Clint Eastwood young forever

Sure, it’s terrific for turning human actors into big blue alien Na’vis. But the photorealistic CGI technology James Cameron perfected for Avatar could easily be used for other, even more mind-blowing purposes—like, say, bringing Humphrey Bogart back to life, or making Clint Eastwood look 35 again. “How about another Dirty Harry movie where Clint looks the way he looked in 1975?” Cameron suggests. “Or a James Bond movie where Sean Connery looks the way he did in Doctor No? How cool would that be?”

In a way, Cameron has already pulled off this trick: Sigourney Weaver appears to drop 20 years whenever she slips her consciousness into an alien body in Avatar. But Cameron’s facial scanning process is so precise—zeroing in to the very pores of an actor’s skin—that virtually any manipulation is possible. You may not be able to totally replace an actor—“There’s no way to scan what’s underneath the surface to what the actor is feeling,” the director notes—but it is now theoretically possible to extend careers by digitally keeping stars young pretty much forever. “If Tom Cruise left instructions for his estate that it was okay to use his likeness in Mission Impossible movies for the next 500 years, I would say that would be fine,” says Cameron. Less fine, at least to Cameron, is bringing long dead stars back to life. “You could put Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart in a movie together, but it wouldn’t be them. You’d have to have somebody play them. And that’s where I think you cross an ethical boundary…”

We have few boundaries here at EW.com. So if you could use Cameron’s death-defying, age reversing technology any way you’d want, what would you do with it, PopWatchers?

(For more on James Cameron and the secrets of Avatar, pick up the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.)

Photo Credit: Weta

Comments (62 total) Add your comment
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  • Naviblue

    It would be weird to watch if eastwood were to die and we’d still have him on screen. I prefer fresh faces.
    Naviblue.com is cool

    • delphinus100

      And yet the Billy Mays commercials don’t seem to stop…

  • Stan

    Is that “Fresh” faces or “Flesh” face?…

  • JACKJack

    So James Cameron’s new technology = end of botox and plastic surgery………..?

    i wish.

  • Sal Capobianco

    I thought that Sigourney Weaver’s was very complimentary; slimmer, younger, more nimble I beleive the bar has already been set.

    • Spiyda

      Sigourney is already slim and nimble enough..

      would the film have been as appealing if the planet had been a high gravity one, where the Avatars were shorter and blockier to survive higher gravity?

      If western society ever stops worrying about what people look like and starts worrying about the state of the planet, then we’ll be getting somewhere..

      I do wonder about the human race sometimes

  • jjoensuu

    Funny I had earlier today read about how so many famous people have spent a lot of money on plastic surgery and operations to stay young-looking. And then I was thinking about how the new HDTV technology would probably even fuel these attempts more on the parts of actors and actresses.

    But now we have this Avatar technology so perhaps it may not be so necessary to look young anymore…

  • krayzeman

    Great idea if the technology is real enough that we as the audience cant tell the difference. Avatar didnt show us how this technology would apply to the look of real life humans. I dont think you should bring those back from the dead to just make a movie but you know how greedy studio execs can be. They would SURELY abuse the technology…

    • Sean

      Then you missed an important little detail in the movie. Watch Jake Sully as he moves himself around in and out of the uplink chambers. They used the CGI mapping to reimage him, giving his legs the withered look you see in people who have lost the use of their legs. Admittedly, it’s not a _complete_ replacement of the character, but it shows how the technology can be merged seamlessly with normal footage.

      • SiliconAddict

        hehe. Wait 15 years when this tech gets cheap enough to be purchased at Best Target (Get it? Get it? I’m so clever.. :P for a $20. You will see porn taken to a whole new level.

  • ajallen

    I would bring back Cary Grant!

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Really? Are people really wanting actors to be replaced by CGI? If we go down the road to “just to make them look better” eventually it will become “why not all together” and to me that isn’t acting or filmmaking. That’s cheating

    • J.

      While it’s cool to be able to do this, do you really want our actors to looks so artificial? My major problem with Avatar is that the blend between the live actors and the CGI is still not very good. It’s not WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, but it’s still the same kettle of fish.

      • radomiro

        but it’s just a matter of time! Technology is not static!, you know

      • John

        Not very good? I dissent. I’m not a big fan of CGI (or 3D), but there was almost real suspension of disbelief here. I don’t think it could ever be total in this scenario, given I’m pretty sure there aren’t tall blue people on one of Jupiter’s moons. Otherwise, it was pretty incredible.

    • mike

      cheating ????? its not a contest,its movie making…if it makes it look better, why not use it

  • Hernan Giaggio

    I don’t really the idea of using actors after they’re dead, but it would be useful for flashbacks and things like that.

  • wembe

    for biographies and al it would be cool

  • François Lafrenière

    Where the technology might be interesting is in referencing notable personalities in period films, in scenes such as Forrest Gump’s meeting with John F. Kennedy. In many ways, it’s an enhanced make-up effect, much like the digital sets are an update to the massive soundstages of yore.

  • Eyeball

    Leave it to King of the World Cameron to declare that his special effects have ‘ethical boundaries’.

  • kwoodnyc

    Lindsey Lohan could look her actual age again!

  • Todd

    James Cameron is evil, and would definitely fight on the side of the machines in the Terminator movies. No new talent will ever be discovered if we just use imprints of old stars forever. F*** that

    • Eric

      It’s funny that you say that, since one of the things that Cameron has always done is to find new, fresh faces for the primary roles in his movies. He’s not saying you should always use old actors (in fact, I’d say he’s quite against that idea), but that you COULD in circumstances where it would have great effect.

    • radomiro

      you didnt get the idea, sorry.

  • doopey

    Sounds like a good fit for the “Gemini” movie that’s been rumored for several years, where an aging cop has to hunt down a younger clone of himself. The idea is that an older action star like Mel Gibson or Harrison Ford has to chase a 1980s version of himself.

    • doopey

      It would also allow Arnold to keep playing the Terminator in new movies.

      • CineRam

        They’ve already done that…see “Terminator: Salvation”.

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