As more and more films have deployed fancy anti-aging FX (see also: The Irishman) and archival footage to resurrect inconveniently-dead performers (see also: Rogue One), it's seemed increasingly likely that a day might arrive where someone would announce a movie with a starring role for a big name star who hasn't been around for decades. It appears that today is that day.
According to THR, James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden) will star in Finding Jack, a new film from directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh. The pair's recently-launched production company, Magic City Films, secured the rights to Dean's likeness from his estate, and the plan is to use a combination of CGI, archival footage, old photos and another's actor's voice to put the long-deceased actor back on the silver screen. The filmmakers promise this will be a "realistic version of James Dean".
For those wondering, here's what it's about:
"Adapted by Maria Sova from Gareth Crocker’s novel, Finding Jack is based on the existence and abandonment of more than 10,000 military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War. Dean will play a character called Rogan, considered a secondary lead role."
I suppose this was inevitable. I mean, we've all been saying this was gonna happen for years, so we can't be terribly surprised that it's finally happening. I further suppose that, once you have Dean's family signing off on the deal, that tends to undercut the moral dilemma at hand: if Dean's own relatives aren't up in arms about this, why should we be? On the other hand, the Dean family granting their approval for this project doesn't make it any less ghoulish. They're free to be okay with it, while I will retain the right to be profoundly creeped out by it. Perhaps one day the practice will be so commonplace that it won't even register anymore, but for now? Yikes, my dudes.
Here's Ernst talking about the thought process of those involved:
"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean. We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact. The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down."
Nothing further to report at this time, but it's a chewy subject, and I imagine everyone will have thoughts on the matter. Do feel free to share yours in the comments below, and stay tuned for more on Finding Jack as further updates become available.