Bruce Willis’ Rep Denies Reports Saying the Actor Sold Rights to His ‘Digital Twin’ Following Aphasia Diagnosis

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Bruce Willis’ team is refuting the idea that the iconic actor sold his digital likeness to a deepfake company. Following the announcement that Willis has left the world of acting, several media reports have indicated that he sold his rights to Deepcake. This was in order to authorize the creation of a “digital twin” of himself to appear in films. Reports claimed that the Die Hard star was the first movie actor to strike a deal like that. However, his team denies the existence of any such agreement.

In a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter, Willis’ representative said that he is not partnered with the Deepcake company. A spokesperson for Deepcake states that as Bruce Willis’ digital-likeness rights are his by default, they cannot be sold. They explain that the company’s involvement with the star was set up through his representatives at CAA. Their only purpose was to create a 2021 ad campaign. However, any future use of likeness would lie in Willis’ hands.

Deepcake’s website claims that the company’s digital-twin technology allows A-list actors to appear in marketing campaigns without being physically present. The site features prominently placed quotes from Willis about a commercial for mobile phone carrier MegaFon. The ad aired in Russia in 2021.

“I liked the precision of my character,” Willis is quoted as saying on the Deepcake site. “It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time. The neural network was trained on content of Die Hard and Fifth Element, so my character is similar to the images of that time.”

It’s unlikely we’ll see “digital twin” of Bruce Willis anytime soon

In March, Willis’ family announced to the public that the actor would be taking a break from his career after being diagnosed with aphasia, which interfered with his cognitive abilities. Aphasia is a disorder preventing one from understanding or expressing speech correctly.

It’s easy to understand why fans would be convinced that Bruce Willis would sell his likeness to a deepfake company. Deepfake technology has been more high profile as of late. The method was employed to place a young Mark Hamill (AKA Luke Skywalker) into the Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett. Luke Skywalker was brought back to live action using deepfake technology and a stand-in. Hamill wasn’t even employed to voice the character. AI simply put together his dialogue sourcing from previously recorded material. The method fooled a lot of people, who thought the credited Hamill had been involved in some way.

James Earl Jones has given his permission for the voice of Darth Vader, which he famously played, to be generated by an AI. This is not the first time this has happened either; a similar event occurred for his recent cameo in the Star Wars Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, it should be noted that although Lucasfilm stated thatJones “guided” the generation of Vader’s lines in the show, Respeecher–the AI firm located in Ukraine–was responsible for creating the character’s voice.