The retired actor still owns the rights to his face.
Last week, it was reported that Bruce Willis was the first Hollywood actor to sell the rights to his likeness, which allows a "digital twin" of himself to be used in upcoming productions. The "digital twin" would allow the actor, who retired in March following his diagnosis of aphasia, to continue working in the industry through deepfake technology powered by the deepfake company, Deepcake.
However, the BBC reports that a spokesperson for Willis denied that the actor has any kind of partnership or agreement with the company.
Deepcake confirmed this report by telling the BBC, "The wording about rights is wrong... Bruce couldn't sell anyone any rights, they are his by default."
Deepcake's spokesperson explained that their company created his digital twin for a 2021 ad campaign with MegaFon, and that any future use of the likeness would be up to Willis.
Deepcake is a deepfake company that uses artificial intelligence to create realistic simulations of people, providing A-list actors the ability to be in marketing campaigns without the need to physically appear in front of the camera. The site features quotes attributed to Willis about his time working on the Russian advertisement created by Hoody FX.
“I liked the precision of my character,” Willis said, according to the quotes on the Deepcake site. “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."
This clarification about the agreement between Willis and Deepcake clears up some of the ethical concerns companies raised regarding the company's accessibility to Willis' likeness. It seems that Deepcake can contract out Willis' likeness if the actor agrees to the production. As of now, no deepfake company owns the rights to any major celebrity's likeness, but we could be seeing more of Willis' likeness in the future.
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