James Dean fans are not happy that he will appear in a new movie more than six decades after his death. Dean — who was known for the 1950s movies East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant — will be “resurrected” via CGI to play a character named Rogan in the upcoming Vietnam-era drama Finding Jack. The casting news has sparked major backlash on social media from fans and modern-day actors.
At the height of his fame, Dean died in a 1955 car crash at age 24 with only three movie credits to his name. For Finding Jack, Dean’s likeness will be revived using archival footage and photos, and a new actor will provide his voice, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Finding Jack director Anton Ernst told THR the makers of the film “searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan” and decided on a CGI version of James Dean after extensive research.
It didn’t take long for fellow actors and fans to express outrage over the unusual casting decision for the film, which is based on the true story of abandoned canine units at the end of the Vietnam War.
“NOPE. This shouldn’t be a thing,” actor Elijah Wood wrote of Dean’s new role in a post on Twitter.
Actor Chris Evans called the unconventional casting move “awful.”
“Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes. The complete lack of understanding here is shameful,” he tweeted.
Other movie fans took to social media to weigh in on the stunning casting news of a CGI James Dean. Many commenters objected to the film using Dean’s likeness instead of a working actor. Others noted that this could be the start of a troubling trend.
Whose idea was it to cast a cgi James Dean???— Kelsey Hale (@agirlnamekelsey) November 7, 2019
Somebody's gonna get throat punched.
dang there's bunch of great actors in the hollywood right now and they're gonna stoop low by using a james dean cgi— marie (@weinersoulja) November 7, 2019
It's one thing to make a respectful movie about James Dean and have a actor portray him but using CGI to create the illusion that he is in a random movie playing some random part that he couldn't agree with just doesn't seem right— Nancy ???? (@nancycslater) November 7, 2019
The CG James Dean casting is very troubling. A CG performance would not be Dean, and could tear the fabric of the acting profession. Why hire flesh and blood people? I understand the Dean estate wants a payday, but this is dangerous and wrong on so many levels. #JamesDean— MOT (@ManicleOfTruth) November 7, 2019
James Dean being “cast” in a new movie is disgusting and disrespectful. You can’t cast an actor in a new movie when he died 64 years ago. It won’t be his voice or creative choices when acting - it will be a weird CGI face of his and nothing more. Let him rest in peace!— Katie Evans (@KatieJaneEvans1) November 6, 2019
While movie fans are outraged, Dean’s family reportedly supports the project. Ernst told THR the Dean family views Finding Jack as the late Oscar nominee’s “fourth movie” that he never got to make.
Recreations using computer-generated imagery have caused controversy in the past. In 2015, a CGI version of the late Paul Walker was used in the movie Furious 7. Walker had not completed filming the movie when he died in 2013, so his part was completed using stand-ins and CGI.
In addition, holographic projections of late stars such as Tupac Shakur have not always been well-received, but it’s a trend that seems to be sticking. A Whitney Houston hologram tour was recently announced, per Rolling Stone.
Finding Jack is expected to be released on Veterans Day 2020.