Synthespian Wannabe: Tron Legacy's Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges is the first actor to play opposite a younger synthespian version of himself, which he does in Tron: Legacy, the upcoming blockbuster from Disney. As those of us who saw the original recall, Bridges played video-game mogul Kevin Flynn. Thirty years later, he faces a digital version of himself in his thirties.


(Bridges (elder) vs. Bridges (digital younger))

New technology enabled film-makers to record the star’s facial movements in minute detail and then superimpose them onto a digital model of his younger self.

For Bridges, the development marks a new epoch in cinema.
‘Whenever I see a big, epic film where the character has aged from being a boy to an old man, traditionally there are different actors playing him and there’s always a little bump for me when they change from one actor to the next. But now I can play someone at any age. It’s the beginning of a new era of film-making.
‘This technology means I’d never have to work again in my life and I could still make films. I can say, “I’ll lease you my image.” In a few years they’ll be able to take aspects of three different actors and make a fourth character. It’s getting weird. They can say, “Let’s put Bridges in here, but I want a little Al Pacino in there – what the heck. Let’s see what kind of guy we come up with.” I think they’ll have this ability to go, “We’re going to give you lots of money; you just come in and do all your expressions, be real, sad, happy… and that’s it.”’
Is he joking?
‘No, this is where movies are starting to go now. They’re taking the actors and putting them in a computer, very much like Tron. It’s got to the stage where we’re close to not having to work at all.’

I'm sure that the irony of Jeff Bridges being scanned into the movie Tron: Legacy in a manner similar to his character Kevin Flynn being scanned into the video game Tron in the original movie Tron will not be lost on Technovelgy readers.


(Bridges (seated left) being scanned into the game in the original Tron)

Science fiction fans have been waiting for this development for many years. William Gibson brought the idea to the fore in his 1996 novel Idoru:

"What did Blackwell mean, last night, about Rez wanting to marry a Japanese girl who isn't real?"

"Idoru," Yamazaki said... "'Idol-singer.' She is Rei Toei. She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents, the creation of information-designers. She is akin to what I believe they call a 'synthespian,' in Hollywood."
(Read more about synthespians)

The first entirely digital actor was created by Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak for their 1988 short film Nestor Sextone for President. See a brief video of this historic creation here.

Theater audiences were treated to an advanced version of synthespians in Avatar (see my earlier article James Cameron's Avatar Synthespians).

Via an excellent article in the Daily Mail.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/30/2010)

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