Bruce Willis may still appear in films after aphasia diagnosis thanks to his ‘digital twin’

Bruce Willis will still appear in films after aphasia diagnosis, thanks to his “digital twin.” (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Bruce Willis has retired from making movies since his aphasia diagnosis, but he may continue to be an action star. how? Well, technology.

The actor, whose family announced in March that he was stepping away from moving-making due to his health, made a new deal with Deepcake to create a “digital twin” of the actor to appear in projects, including films, that are approved by his estate. The company creates artificial intelligence-replicas of celebrities, and the production process doesn’t require the physical presence of a celebrity to be there.

Willis started working with the Delaware-based company in August 2021. An authorized deepfake of the actor was used in a Russian commercial for the mobile communication company MegaFon. How it worked is an artificial neural network was used to impose Willis’s image onto the face of Russian actor Konstantin Solovyov. It took 15 to 17 days to make the training video. The company was working to speed up the process to 3 to 5 days. The company boasts that it’s much cheaper to use fakes for productions, and easier in the sense that projects “don’t depend on schedule, circumstances, and special requests from celebrities.”

How it works:

Willis’s image is all over the company website, including a quote about selling his image for the MegaFon commercial last year: “I liked the precision of my character,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time. The neural network was trained on content of Die Hard and Fifth Element, so my character is similar to the images of that time. With the advent of the modern technology, I could communicate, work and participate in filming, even being on another continent. It’s a brand new and interesting experience for me, and I [am] grateful to our team.”

Yahoo Entertainment reached out to Deepcake, which has not yet provided details on terms of Willis’s deal or when it was made. A rep for Willis has not yet responded to request for comment.

In March, the Willis family said in a statement that the star had been diagnosed with aphasia, a condition where a person loses the ability to communicate. As a result he was “stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”

The same day, the Los Angeles Times published a report in which nearly two dozen people who had been on set with Willis in recent years (for mostly straight to VOD movies), expressed concern about his well-being. Among the claims was that Willis unexpectedly fired a gun loaded with a blank on the wrong cue on the set of Hard Kill — a claim denied by the producer and armorer. Multiple set sources claimed Willis often seemed confused on the set of 2022’s White Elephantonce asking, “Why am I here?”

The same outlet did an exposé soon after on Hollywood producer Randall Emmett, who hired Willis to appear in two dozen films — mostly the straight to VOD ones — since 2006. It claimed the action star had his lines fed to him in an earpiece and couldn it kick open a door in the movie Midnight in the Switchgrass. However, he continued to churn out movies. In the story, Emmett’s rep denied he was aware “of any decline in Mr. Willis’s health.” Willis still has three projects filmed prior to his retirement that have yet to be released.

Since the retirement announcement, Willis’s family has shared glimpses of his life after movie making. We’ve seen him jam on his harmonica and go biking with his daughters.

Willis’s net worth has been estimated at over $250 million. As his health declined, he’s sold off $65 million in real estate.

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