See how They Digitally Created a Young Will Smith in Ang Lee’s Gemini Man

The last time we checked in with Ang Lee’s sci-fi thriller Gemini Man, we were unpacking the first trailer. Now Paramount Pictures has released a behind-the-scenes featurette, giving us a better sense of what Lee has up his sleeve for his latest film. The basic premise of Gemini Man is fairly straight forward: hitman Henry Brogen (Will Smith) faces off against a younger version of himself. The 50-year-old Henry versus the 23-year-old “Junior” is the set-up, with the joy of getting two Will Smith’s for the price of one part of the payoff. Will youth trump experience? Will the technology sufficiently render the young Smith realistically enough to lose yourself in the story? The answer to that question seems to be “yes.”

“What’s so special Gemini Man is at the center of it you have two characters played by one person across generations,” says Smith in the featurette. The star goes on to say he poured all that he’s learned about his craft into playing the two versions of Henry Brogen here.

“The concept of a man being chased by himself is a really compelling idea for a story,” Ang Lee adds. “Thanks to the technology now, it’s possible.” When we first wrote about Gemini Man, we assumed that the young Will Smith was created by the same kind of de-aging technology we’ve seen quite a bit of lately, most emphatically in the work that was done to Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel. It turns out that Gemini Man is utilizing performance-capture technology, instead, and then using that to create a digital human—the young Smith—using the real Smith’s performance.

“Creating a digital human is one of the hardest things you can do in visual effects,” says VFX supervisor Big Westenhofer. He goes on to explain that Smith hasn’t been “de-aged” in Gemini Man, nor did they utilize face replacement technology. “It’s an entirely digital creation, one hundred percent driven by Will Smith’s performance capture,” Westenhofer says.

The results look pretty fantastic. Check out the BTS featurette here:

Here’s the official synopsis from Paramount:

Gemini Man is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ang Lee and produced by renown producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Don Granger. Also starring are Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.

Gemini Man opens in theaters on October 11, 2019.

Featured image: Theatrical poster for ‘Gemini Man.’ Courtesy Paramount Pictures.


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