If you were pumped to see Ang Lee‘s Gemini Manin the 120 frames-per-second high frame rate 4K 3D format that director Ang Lee intended, you might want to sit down for some bad news. Not a single movie theater in America will be screening Lee’s film in that desired format. On top of that, only 14 theaters in the country will be able to screen something close to what Lee wanted – 3D with 120fps high frame rate, but no 4K.
I’m not too wild about the concept of High Frame Rate films – like Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, for instance. I know some filmmakers think it might be the future, but to me, it looks like big-screen motion smoothing, giving the visuals a soap opera effect. But HFR is exactly what director Ang Lee wanted for his new film Gemini Man, starring Will Smith.
“You get people excited, I think it’s the detail [you] get to see it,” Lee said of the 4K 3D HFR format he cooked-up for Gemini Man. “I think that’s new a kind of filmmaking, and I think it’s this kind of staging [frontal], in and out of the perspective, a first-person-third-person kind of exchange. It’s a different kind of language, involvement, for both the filmmaker and the viewer.”
Unfortunately, theaters across the nation are unable to comply with Lee’s wishes. According to Polygon, no theater in America is equipped to screen the film in Lee’s desired format. The best movie theaters in the states can do is present Gemini Man in 3D with a 120 HFR rate in 2K. These are the 14 theaters that will offer such an experience to moviegoers:
AMC Aventura Mall 24 – Miami, FL AMC Century City 15 – Los Angeles, CA AMC Del Amo 18 – Los Angeles, CA AMC Disney Springs 24 – Orlando, FL AMC Elmwood Palace 20 – New Orleans, LA AMC Flatiron Crossing 14 – Denver, CO AMC Hawthorn 12 – Chicago, IL AMC Lincoln Square 13 – New York, NY AMC Metreon 16 – San Francisco, CA AMC North Point 12 – Atlanta, GA AMC River East 21 – Chicago, IL AMC Town Square 18 – Las Vegas, NV AMC White Marsh 16 – Bimore, MD AMC Willowbrook 24 – Houston, TX
There will also be theaters showing the film in 4K without 3D or HFR. Personally, I’m fine with all of this. I avoid 3D like the plague, and as I mentioned above, I think HFR just doesn’t look right. But I also appreciate that Lee and his crew went through a lot of trouble to shoot the film a certain way, and it must be disappointing to learn that the fruits of their labor will mostly go unseen.
"It was time to try a digital human," says Ang Lee of the steep challenge of creating a young Will Smith as 'Gemini Man' and Scorsese's 'Irishman' push new boundaries of VFX, budgets and, say some, ethics.
While directing Will Smith in Gemini Man, in which the 51-year-old actor stars as an assassin hunted by a clone of his younger self, director Ang Lee made an unusual request of his star. He asked Smith to "act less."
Lee needed Smith to go back to his less-polished acting roots from the early 1990s in order to capture the performance for his younger clone. But to make Smith look like his youthful self required a whole new level of trickery that saw Lee and his visual effects team create a fully digital CGI 23-year-old Will Smith.
The result: On Oct. 11, audiences will see a Fresh Prince-era Smith trade punches with his present-day self. A few weeks later, septuagenarian screen legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino will perform together as younger men in Martin Scorsese's gangster epic The Irishman. As visual effects technologies advance, filmmakers are rethinking the potential of digital humans, particularly as a tool for de-aging actors.
While crafting a believable synthetic human is the most difficult of VFX wizardry, Hollywood saw the possibilities a decade ago when an elderly Brad Pitt aged backward into his youthful prime in David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The work won the VFX Oscar that year, but the challenge of aging an actor up or down was still so daunting that it was rarely used outside of limited and specific story needs.
In 2019, nostalgic audiences are seeing several stars appear as their younger selves thanks to a range of VFX techniques, including Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel, Robert Downey Jr. in Avengers: Endgame and Linda Hamilton in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate, as she returns to the franchise after 28 years 2015's Terminator: Genisys likewise featured a de-aged Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But to de-age by creating a synthetic human is still largely uncharted territory, and top VFX artists are using various techniques that present challenges and opportunities for directors, effects artists and even the actors themselves. Upon seeing his digital younger self for the first time in The Irishman, ILM VFX supervisor Pablo Helman says De Niro told him, "You just gave me 30 more years of my career."
Scorsese knew he needed to wield the full capacity of de-aging magic in order to make The Irishman the way he wanted: that is, with his three leads — De Niro, 75, Joe Pesci, 76, and Al Pacino, 79 — playing their characters through the decades that the story spans. But motion-capture methods of creating an onscreen digital human couldn't be used on the three veteran actors. "Marty said to me, 'One thing I know for sure — Bob's an actor's actor, Pacino and Pesci as well. They're not going to wear a helmet with two little cameras and markers all over their faces,' " says Helman.
This led to a bold initiative at ILM to develop its performance-capture capabilities so that actors do not have to wear markers on set. Netflix, which made The Irishman for $159 million, and ILM say it involves a three-camera rig with a main camera and two witness cameras, as well as companion software.
"We had taken the technology away from the actor and let the director and the actors do what they need to do," Helman explains. He adds that particularly with stars such as De Niro and Pacino, they like to act opposite each other and improvise. "That kind of interaction can't be done in the moment when you have one actor acting against a tennis ball," he contends. "We didn't alter any performances. There were changes that were made to the appearance but not the choices they made in the bodies and also in the faces." Each finished shot was then reviewed by Scorsese. "He would tell us if he felt the same way as he did when he selected the take, and if it would work for the movie."
For Paramount's Gemini Man, made for $138 million plus rebates, Lee took digital human work into a whole new realm. The VFX supervisor, Bill Westenhofer, explains that as the younger and older Smith had to appear together in the same shots, other VFX techniques simply were not an option.
"I believed it was time to try a digital human," Lee says. "You had to build the character, the detail and really study human details and the performance from our actor. I believe that's what you have to do if that's your lead character."
VFX house Weta gathered images of Smith at a younger age and studied anatomy and terms such as nasolabial folds. "If anything isn't right, it falls apart," says Guy Williams, Weta's VFX supervisor. "We did a deep dive into how light interacts with skin and creating pigments under the layer of skin."
For shots in which Smith appears with his young clone, Junior, the actor performed first as Henry, with a reference actor of similar physicality playing opposite him as Junior. Then Smith performed Junior's role on a motion-capture stage opposite a reference actor playing Henry. In scenes in which Henry and Junior are not both in the frame, the team would photograph Smith wearing a facial-capture system and then perform digital face replacement on his body. Action sequences involved fully digital doubles based on stunt performances with face replacement.
Westenhofer says that while getting the eyes right is important to overcome the uncanny valley, every element of the face and body has to be spot-on. "We had in our favor that Will is pretty healthy and still moves pretty youthfully. Making sure the youthfulness came through in the body was a consideration throughout."
Costs can vary. At the moment, a fully digital human generally starts with the creation of a movable model of the human, explains Darren Hendler, head of VFX house Digital Domain's digital human group. He estimates that this could cost from $500,000 to $1 million to create. Then, he adds, producers could expect to pay anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 per shot, depending on the individual requirements of the performance in the scene. VFX pros point out that costs will drop as computers get faster and techniques evolve.
Because of the cost and complexity of creating a digital human, filmmakers often instead use so-called digital cosmetics for de-aging tasks on the actor's actual image, such as removing wrinkles. This was seen in Marvel's Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel, de-aging Downey and Jackson.
These capabilities raise important ethical questions: When is it appropriate to use an actor's likeness, and what are an actor's rights to his or her likeness? That conversation intensified when late actor Robin Williams' estate put restrictions on the use of his digital likeness, an unusual move.
Westenhofer believes these are discussions that will need to happen, including how likenesses are used in Deep Fakes. "For us to do this, it took a team of several hundred artists two years to pull off. We are not close to someone going in their garage and completely fooling someone," he says.
And then there are questions about how digital humans could impact acting opportunities — actors hired to portray younger versions of lead characters may lose out on those opportunities. Still, Westenhofer is optimistic about how digital humans could lead to new stories that maybe Hollywood hasn't considered at this point. He says, "Our role is to show that all of these things are possible and allow incredibly talented people with these great imaginations and storytellers to come up with things that we haven't thought of yet."
This story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
“I’m having trouble looking in the mirror lately,” says Henry Brogan Will Smith, one of the world’s best assassins. He’s spent a large chunk of his career bumping off bad guys for the government, but now he wants to hang up his guns and retire at the ripe old age of 51. He’s tired of killing people, and for the first time in his deadly career, he’s actually starting to grow what might be considered a conscience. But if Henry thought looking in the mirror was hard, just wait until he comes face to face with a new enemy: himself.
A younger, cloned Henry played by a digitally de-aged Smith has come calling, setting the stage for a big Will Smith vs. Will Smith action extravaganza wrapped-up in a package called Gemini Man. All the pieces are there, and those pieces rest in the able hands of director Ang Lee. So why is the end result so curiously lifeless? At some point, Lee got too caught up with the tech at work here and forgot to focus on a moving narrative. The end result is more video game than movie.
Digitally de-aging is becoming more and more prevalent. Marvel has been doing it for a few years now, perfecting things with a perfectly de-aged Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel. Martin Scorsese’s upcoming The Irishman uses similar tech to de-age Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino – with mostly successful results there are one or two scenes where the effect seems off. Gemini Man wants to take things to a whole new level, so much so that Lee has been insistent on stating that this isn’t a “digitally de-aged” Will Smith – it’s a full CGI creation. Smith may have been his own stand-in, but his younger version is de-aged in body as well as face.
Smith has been in the limelight for decades, and we know exactly what he looked like as a younger man from his Fresh Prince days. So when the young Smith – nicknamed Junior – finally pops-up about a half-hour into the movie the result is momentarily stunning. It really looks like a young Will Smith has teleported from the past into this movie.
But then Junior starts talking – and the effect is completely blown. Because while the FX wizards Lee has worked with are able to master Smith’s resting face, they never quite get the knack to show it in motion. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of motion here. Henry and Junior are constantly sparring, fighting, and bickering, which means the digital Smith has a lot of action and acting to do. But every time he moves his mouth or blinks his eyes, there’s an eerie, uncanny quality at play. He starts to look less like a living, breathing human and more like a video game character – or even the lead character in this year’s Alita: Battle Angel. Alita never looked fully real in that movie, but it worked in that context – after all, she’s a cyborg. But Smith’s Junior is supposed to be flesh and blood.
None of this is Smith’s fault. The actor does the best he can with the clunky, humorless script from David Benioff, Billy Ray, and Darren Lemke. Smith has always had charisma to burn, and Lee was wise to cast him here, because Gemini Man has to coast almost entirely on that charisma. He brings a rough weariness to Henry and a conflicted tenderness to Junior that still manages to shine through all that damn CGI.
Along his journey, Henry is aided by Danny Zakarweski Mary Elizabeth Winstead, another agent accidentally caught up in this mess. There was a time when Winstead’s character would be little more than a tag-along – a hapless, helpless female character that Smith would have to save over and over again. But Gemini Man makes the smart choice of having Winstead’s Danny be more than able to handle herself, and she gets to kick as much ass as Smith. Progress!
Henry and Danny are also helped by Henry’s old pal Baron, a woefully underwritten character saved by a lively, if underused, Benedict Wong. Baron is more plot device than character – he exists because he knows how to fly a plane, and the story requires Henry to fly all over Europe at the drop of a hat. You keep waiting for the character to have a big moment to shine – but it never comes.
All of this cloning and mayhem has been orchestrated by Clay Varris, an evil government spy played by a sleepy, bored Clive Owen. There’s a lot of talk about how twisted and cold-hearted Varris is, but Owen plays him so low-key and lifeless that he makes for an ultimately drab villain. Varris’ plan to eliminate Henry begins to take on all the trappings of a Bourne sequel, where he bickers with other government agents behind-the-scenes about who to kill next. It’s all so boring that you might want to go ahead and take a bathroom break during these scenes.
The only time Gemini Man really comes alive is during its big action scenes. Lee stages many of these in brightly lit locals, all the better to highlight the High Frame Rate he shot the film in – a technique which looks like big-screen motion smoothing, and one which filmmakers should strop trying to make happen. There are several big set pieces including a motorcycle chase where the two Smiths are literally chucking their bikes at each other. But even these action scenes falter, particularly when Lee has his characters pull off the impossible. On more than one occasion Junior’s acrobatics make him look more like a rubber doll than a human being, and one specific moment where Henry does the world’s most powerful push-up – one that literally launches his entire body off the ground as if it were a spring – is so damn silly looking that it’s surprising it made it into the final film.
The video game comparisons come into play here, too. Not only do many of the action scenes get bogged down in digital nonsense, Lee often cuts to POV shots with the camera mounted on the barrel of whatever gun Henry happens to be holding, thus moving the camera along with the weapon. The end result looks exactly like a moment lifted from a first-person shooter game.
Lee is a daring filmmaker and deserves credit for trying new things visually with Gemini Man. But it would’ve been better off for everyone if he had stopped to think about the story as well. There’s a lot of psychological material to mine from this premise – a man literally coming face to face with himself. But Gemini Man only gives that material a cursory glance, and then it’s on to the next action scene drowning in digital drudgery. There’s nothing wrong with a middle-of-the-road action pic, but you can tell Gemini Man wants to be something much bigger, and better. It isn’t.
The actor discussed his latest role and the advice he'd ask his younger self on 'The Late Show.'
Ahead of the Gemini Man release date, Will Smith stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Tuesday to chat with host Stephen Colbert about the challenges of starring opposite himself: he plays the role of a veteran assassin who faces off against his younger clone.
"What he did with this film is really spectacular," Smith said of director Ang Lee. "He's trying to create a new reason for people to go to movie theaters."
The actor added that his latest project should be viewed in 3D, joking "it's not your daddy's 3D."
As for fighting against his younger self in the film, Smith noted what audience goers will see is "the first-ever 100 percent digital human" adding that "it isn't de-aging. It's not me playing the character... It's a 100 percent digital character."
The fully-CG younger clone of Smith's character wasachievedby the team at Peter Jackson's Weta Digital using performance capture and the most advanced digital techniques.
Early reviews of the movie indicated a lukewarm reaction from critics. The Hollywood Reporter'sStephen Daltonarguedthat the film is a "significant leap forward for visual effects but a backward step for gripping, sophisticated thrillers."
To accurately portray a younger version of Smith, Lee looked back at the actor's youthful projects such as Six Degrees of Separation and Men In Black. However, one of Smith's most iconic roles wasn't at the top of Lee's list to utilize.
"For Fresh Prince, he's looking at my character and says, 'I don't want any of that in my movie,'" Smith joked.
When asked by the late night host if there's some advice he'd like to give to his younger self, Smith shared he'd rather turn that scenario around.
"I feel like that younger version of me, there's a certain naivety to youth that is powerful. When you don't know something, you're aggressive," Smith said. "I would ask my young self for advice... For the last two years, I've been trying to recapture that youthful fearlessness."
Such fearlessness includes the actor bungee jumping out of a helicopter to celebrate his 50th birthday, an act that Smith says "was probably the scariest thing I've done in 25 years."
The actor also discussed recently celebrating the opening of Tyler Perry's new studio in Atlanta, Georgia.
"It was really a spectacular evening," Smith said of the gala. As for learning that a sound stage was dedicated to him, he added "I was happy with mine... then I saw Oprah's."
Smith joked that the media mogul has been famous for so long that whomever is around her often ends up becoming her personal assistant. "You have to help Oprah," Smith said. "I've seen Barack get Oprah something to eat."
Gemini Man, which premiered in Los Angeles on Monday, hits theaters on Oct. 11.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Will Smith bicker with himself, it looks like Gemini Man is going to be the film for you. Ang Lee‘s special effects-driven action flick has old man Will Smith fighting young man Will Smith, which means the Will Smiths get to shout insults at each other in between bullets. A new Gemini Man clip has the Smiths engaged in a standoff. Things don’t go well.
Gemini Man Clip
Every time I see new footage of Gemini Man, I can’t help but remember Rian Johnson’s Looper. That movie had a similar concept: an older version of a man battling his younger self. But it didn’t rely on digital tech – it simply slapped some make-up on Joseph Gordon-Levitt and made him look like Bruce Willis. And it worked! And worked well!
But here, we get a digitally created young Will Smith dealing with a current-day Will Smith, and I have yet to be sold on the idea. And this clip doesn’t exactly help – it’s quick, and there’s something off here about Smith talking with Smith. But maybe in the full context of the film itself all of this will coalesce. Will Smith is one of the last true movie stars, and he can be damn fun to watch with the right role. Here, he has two to work with. And he’s working with Ang Lee, a wonderful filmmaker who loves to play around with technology. That’s a lot of positive stuff wrapped-up in one project.
“The two Will Smith’s coexisting, with one looking so much younger, in this medium the feeling is kind of existential,” Ang Lee told /Film at a roundtable interview. “It really makes you wonder about your own existence and what would you tell your younger self. And also see your trajectory when you’re young.”
Lee and company have also stressed that this isn’t just a digitally de-aged Will Smith we’re seeing in the movie. It’s a creation from scratch:
“We did it from scratch. That’s why I don’t like to call it de-aging, it’s not just a brush-up. Age has more mysteries than just the wrinkles. When we started I was looking at him and thought, “Should he look older? Is he too young?” No. It’s kind of sad what life does to you. Every layer of skin, every bone, it’s just sad how much you age, even your enamel in your teeth, it’s all the subtle changes. It’s very inspiring, actually.”
In Gemini Man, Smith plays Henry Brogan, “an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.” The movie also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.
It’s the year of digital de-aging as technology caught up with need for Martin Scorsese’s mobster epic, “The Irishman,” and Ang Lee’s sci-fi/thriller, “Gemini Man.” Industrial Light & Magic devised an unobtrusive facial capture breakthrough to make Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci look decades younger as hitman Frank Sheeran, Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, and Philly crime boss Russell Bufalino, respectively. And Weta Digital has constructed the most fully realized digital human yet as 50-year-old Will Smith fights 23-year-old Will Smith in a face off between a hitman and his clone.
Meanwhile, Lola VFX, which has become the de-aging specialists for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has made great strides this year with its vaunted 2D Photoshopping-like procedure of skin smoothing and shape warping on “Captain Marvel,” making Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury look decades younger without the use of a digital double for the first time. For good measure, Lola also tackled puberty on “It Chapter Two” to slightly de-age The Loser’s Club.
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When Netflix premiered Scorsese’s long-awaited three-and-a-half-hour saga at the New York Film Festival last week, ILM’s costly de-aging experiment pushing the budget to $160 million proved effective in conveying the Oscar-worthy performances from 76-year-old De Niro, 79-year-old Pacino, and 76-year-old Pesci. Not surprisingly, the director’s summary statement about “loyalty, love, trust, and ultimately betrayal,” represents his version of Sergio Leone’s similarly-themed “Once Upon a Time in America,” which also starred De Niro. Except Scorsese has replaced De Niro’s opium-induced fever dream with a grittier though no less mournful remembrance of things past.
Indeed, the key to Scorsese’s de-aging strategy on “The Irishman” was presenting Sheeran’s criss-crossing flashbacks mostly the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s as an elderly man’s reflection on his life. It was therefore about shaping performances with youthful massaging rather than creating younger replicas of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci. “This isn’t just about lenses and computer imagery,” Scorsese said at the New York Film Festival Q&A. “It’s about posture, it’s about movement, it’s about clarity of the eyes, everything.” Which is why during his first shooting experience with Pacino, the director had him do several additional takes, jumping up from his chair in anger while watching JFK on TV with his family until he approximated the age-appropriate 49-year-old Hoffa.
For ILM, the tech challenge was to create the lightest possible capture footprint for the trio of actors. “In the first meeting four years ago, De Niro said there was no way he was going to wear a helmet camera or facial markers,” ILM VFX supervisor Pablo Helman told IndieWire. “He wanted to be onset with the lighting, acting with other actors. And he said there will not be any controlled environment for re-shoots.
“With helmet cams you need to do calibration and that also requires two hours of makeup,” added Helman. De Niro only required makeup with no de-aging as the elderly Sheeran. “And the main problem for marker technology has to do with the lighting. You need to get those faces lit or else those markers don’t read. What we came up with is something that has never been used before without helmet cameras or markers.”
The camera system and companion software that ILM developed captured the actors' facial performances on set with no additional lighting requirements, and then translated those unaltered performances to full 3D CG versions of their younger selves with its proprietary models. The camera system consisted of three witness cameras rigged together with the same lenses as the principal cameras employed by DP Rodrigo Prieto, who termed the bulky system, “the three-headed monster.”
“It was slowly getting through performances and getting through takes, and moving on,” Helman said. “They were never waiting for us. But the post-production process was a little bit different from any other production that I have been on. We had never really showed Marty intermediate takes. He trusted us enough so that we would finish a shot, render it with the right lighting, and we would show him the performance. And if the performance had the same feeling that he had with the original performance he selected, we moved on.”
But if it didn’t, they discussed getting a better match. Scorsese, however, insisted on no keyframe-animated enhancements. ILM strictly used the raw data to slightly dial up the variation models for the three actors to achieve greater fidelity to their performances. De Niro developed the reserved Sheeran with a signature scowl, Pacino played the hot-headed Hoffa with manic exuberance, and Pesci offered a quiet menace as Bufalino. “[Scorsese] painted these characters as having a really rough life and, to him, it means that some people age differently than others, and there are all kinds of wrinkles and even body movements that echo what you have lived,” Helman said. “That is something that is completely different. And this achievement is going to be measured for what it does for the next generation of filmmakers on set with lighting.”
By contrast, “Gemini Man” offered a completely different approach to de-aging shot in 3D at 120 frames-per-second and 4k resolution by cinematographer Dion Beebe. In fact, the filmmakers refuse to call it de-aging. “We are not de-aging,” Lee said. “I rather think that we are creating a new character, a youthful Will Smith.”
“To the layman, yes, de-aging is just making a person look younger,” added production VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer. “But from our side, de-aging has been associated with the Lola process. Whereas this is creating a person from whole cloth. We knew we had to make a digital human and once we did, it made sense to do it everywhere.”
Paramount Pictures / screen cap
Smith played the aging Henry as well as his clone, Junior, channeling his younger self. Junior, therefore, represents a major character breakthrough for Weta, appearing in more than half the movie, and required to express a range of emotions performed by Smith.
Weta created the CG Junior under the supervision of Guy Williams by studying the morphology of aging at it applied to the actor. The wizards of Weta then made great strides particularly in the areas of skin and eye work. The animators created a new procedural software for pores that simulates areas between the pores and along the natural fall lines for a more natural look. And modeled a dark retina for the eyes to reveal more depth, and provided an additional film surface that sits across the eye for greater fidelity.
And accommodating 120 fps worked to Weta’s advantage with some of the smooth skin artifice replaced by more natural sharpness and crispness. “That’s why we [pushed] the envelope as hard as we possibly can do,” said Westenhofer, “to be the first to deliver a fully convincing digital human.”
But Lola, the de-aging expert, has come a long way since touching up Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in “X-Men: The Last Stand” 2006, Brad Pitt in the Oscar-winning “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” 2008, Michael Douglas in “Ant-Man” 2015, Robert Downey Jr. in “Captain America: Civil War” 2016, Kurt Russell in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” 2017, and Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” 2018.
“One of the things that we'd always done in the past was to shoot a double and to recreate a performance so the main actor would do the piece, the other actor would watch, and then they would re-enact the thing,” said “Captain Marvel'” production VFX supervisor Christopher Townsend. “But with Sam being in two-thirds of 'Captain Marvel,' we couldn't do that. It would take too much time and be too difficult to match performances for every shot.”
Fortunately, Jackson has aged very well and has great skin, so it was no problem for Lola to go without a double. They used some makeup to pull back the skin on his neck, but relied on the actor’s performance with no grafting - just slimming and tightening and smoothing over. “It's very exciting to arrive at this point where we're de-aging a major character for the entire length of a film,” said Lola VFX supervisor Trent Claus. “With a project of this scale, we did indeed have to modify our usual methods a bit in order to accommodate the volume of shots.”
Ultimately, though, the de-aging process must always be at the service of the actor’s performance. “You're sculpting this whole thing,” Scorsese said. “It's like living models in a way. Plus the truth of how they're interpreting. It's an extraordinary experience.”