Gemini Man's Big Challenge Revolved Around Will Smith's Performance, According To Ang Lee

Ang Lee’s next project has quietly been coming together over at Paramount for over a year. At CinemaCon, the director revealed he is “in the home stretch” for Gemini Man, a high concept new thriller that will hit theaters later in 2019 starring Will Smith.

The general premise of the movie is that Will Smith plays Henry, an aging assassin who at one point gets cloned. Now, his 23-year-old clone is out to get him. Sounds fun, and the first footage looks fun, but Ang Lee says there was one problem with trying to film Will Smith as a much younger actor—he’s gotten much better at acting over the years.

Per the director,

Working with him over a year I found that the present-day Will Smith is such a surprisingly fine actor. He brought the character Harry to such a sophistication, melancholy, courage and sophistication I would say. I found his performance, I would say, is just exquisite. Now the really hard part was as I mentioned the junior, the 23-year-old.

Will Smith’s caliber of acting has changed over time and Ang Lee also revealed that it was an unbelievable challenge to get the actor to play both roles, one with experience and sophistication and one with youth and courage. He also noted:

We have a very high class problem, which is Will Smith is a lot better actor today than what he used to be. I’m not joking. That’s a real problem for me because of how many layers, how daring an actor has to be, how willing he is to be so we can get down to the essence: peel the layers of his personality, his experience and his performance experience.

Back in the days when Will Smith was a catchphrase machine and one of the most energetic presences in Hollywood, he maybe hadn’t fully honed his craft year. Now 50, the actor has honed his skills in the acting arena considerably. Most of the time this was great on the set of Gemini Man, but it also presented challenges given the dual nature of the nature, which had Smith acting as a man of his age but also a much younger clone.

It should be noted Will Smith’s own challenge related to Gemini Man seemed to have more to do with bugs than playing a kid in his twenties.

However, when the actor had to tap into the raw nature of playing a 23-year-old clone, things got tricky. At CinemaCon 2019, Ang Lee also reflected that getting Will Smith to the point where he could capably play a character with decades of less experience was “heartbreaking,” saying,

Get down to the essence of the innocence of him [at 23] and performing from there, I found that the result is just heartbreaking. It’s something I’ve never experienced before. I’ve had him for like a year; I’m up to here with Will Smith. So much Will Smith in my life. I think I know this man’s essence as a friend as a person as a really fine, good actor.

But Gemini Man is not just about Will Smith’s acting performance. Having seen first look footage from the movie, the de-aging CGI technology used to create two versions of Will Smith looks pretty fantastic.

Ang Lee is also notably using the 120 frame per second technology for Gemini Man. It’s a premise he attempted once before in 2016 with Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk, the director’s follow-up to Life of Pi. Average films are shot in 24 frames per second.

Although Billy Lynne didn’t really resonate with audiences or some critics – many of whom did not enjoy the visuals -- Ang Lee is giving the high frame rate another go with the 3D Gemini Man. The studio, Paramount,

Ultimately Ang Lee said he was lucky to be able to sign on a busy actor like Will Smith for the role – he said “very, very lucky” actually – and audiences will get to see whether or not the 120 frame per second rate is the wave of the future when the movie hits theaters on October 11, 2019.

Check out the flick’s competition with our full movies schedule.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.