With the help of advanced CGI techniques, filmmakers will resurrect iconic movie star James Dean for another big-screen outing — 64 years after the actor’s death.
The team behind the upcoming Vietnam era action-drama Finding Jack has secured the rights to Dean’s likeness from his family, as they cast a “realistic version” of the late actor in a secondary role, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film, which is based on a 2011 novel of the same name, explores the abandonment of military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War.
Dean died at the age of 24 in 1955 when he was involved in a head-on collision in California while driving his Porsche.
Filling the role of Rogan, Dean will be brought to life using head-to-toe visual effects drawn from existing footage and file photos, with another actor supplying his voice. The otherwise live-action film, directed by Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh, is slated for a Veterans Day release next year.
“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs,” Ernst told THR. “And after months of research, we decided on James Dean.”
Dean completed three films before his death — East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant — and he received two posthumous Oscar nominations for East of Eden and Giant.
“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,” Ernst said. “The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make.”
The director added: “We do not intend to let his fans down.”
Finding Jack, which is set to begin initial production later this month, could open the door to new possibilities in returning deceased stars to future Hollywood projects.
“This opens up a whole new opportunity for many of our clients who are no longer with us,” Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide, told THR.
In recent years, CGI has been used to bring late movie stars back to life for big-budget sequels, most notably in 2016’s Rogue One, which digitally returned actors Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher to the Star Wars franchise.