Bruce Willis Has Retired From Acting, But His Likeness Will Live On Thanks To Selling His Deepfake Rights

Deepfake technology seems invasive, and more than a little dangerous. One many has been impersonating Tom Cruise in viral videos for years now, and even reached out to the celebrity to try and obtain his permission. Hollywood studios have been using the deepfake technology to de-age important characters in the Star Wars universe, or to satisfy fan curiosity about how a classic character might look if the original actor were able to still play them. But Bruce Willis appears to be making history by becoming the first actor to sell the rights to his image so that a deepfake company can recreate him in upcoming projects. 

Deepfake uses digital technology to create the image of a famous person and place it on another stand-in actor. It can make it look like the actor is doing almost anything. In this Tom Cruise deepfake, the video makes it appear that the Mission: Impossible star walks into a room before tripping and falling, then speaking to the camera. It’s unnerving.

Bruce Willis allowed his likeness to be used by a company named Deepcake, who used it to create a Russian telecommunications company advertisement. In the ad, “Willis” is tied to a bomb with another spy-looking agent. The digital counter ticks down, until “Willis” reveals the password that will stop the countdown. Only, it’s not Willis at all. He allowed this performance to happen digitally, and never had to step foot on a set. 

In a statement obtained by The Telegraph from the company’s Website. Willis was quoted as saying:

I liked the precision with which my character turned out. It’s a mini-movie in my usual action-comedy genre. For me, it is a great opportunity to go back in time. With the advent of modern technology, even when I was on another continent, I was able to communicate, work and participate in the filming. It’s a very new and interesting experience, and I thank our entire team.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Bruce Willis was retiring from acting due to his ongoing struggles with aphasia. This new technology, whether you agree with it or not, opens the door to the conversation that someone like Willis could allow himself to keep appearing in more projects, without having to be there. Cue the jokes aout the recent string of direct-to-video movies Willis had been making anyway, even though his family swears that he was not being exploited. These wouldn’t be performances, but it would allow the star to stay in the public conscience. Just, you’d hope, in something more meaningful than a Russian commercial.

Still looking for more Bruce Willis? We put together a running list of his best movies, and how to watch them. And whenever we get a chance to speak with someone who worked with the actor, like Justin Long of Live Free or Die Hard, we love asking for memories of the collaboration. Don’t expect that to end any time soon.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.