Ang Lee’s Gemini Man is a massive experiment in filmmaking, featuring Will Smith as younger and current versions of himself. In a new featurette, the production team explains why this isn’t a simple process of de-ageing, like they did with Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Young Will Smith is a digital transformation.
“[Lee’s] technology is going to change how movies are made, and how movies are seen,” Smith said.
In Gemini Man, Smith stars as an assassin facing off against a younger clone of himself. As you can see in the video, while we’ve seen similar effects in recent years, the movie still had to break a lot of new ground.
Unlike Star Trek: Nemesis, where Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard matched wits with a clone played by Tom Hardy, Smith has taken on both characters. Visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer said it’s “not de-ageing,” but rather a complete digital person built from scratch, using Smith as the model and template.
In that sense, it’s more akin to Avatar or Planet of the Apes. But this is tougher than creating an animal or alien figure. This is a real person, built to match how they looked decades ago (and viewers are familiar with), and it still relies heavily on Smith’s acting with performance capture. According to Smith, it’s allowing him to portray his younger self in a way that utilises the experiences he’s gained over the years.
“I couldn’t have played Junior at 23 years old, now I’m able to understand and capture both characters because of the amount of experience I’ve had as an actor,” Smith said.
Gemini Man comes out in Australian cinemas October 10.