The actor discussed his latest role and the advice he'd ask his younger self on 'The Late Show.'
Ahead of the Gemini Manrelease 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 Donarguedthat 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."
"What can we learn from this?" the CBS host asked the astrophysicist, who was accused by three women of inappropriate behavior in 2018.
Stephen Colbert didn't ease guest Neil deGrasse Tyson into conversation during The Late Show on Monday night.
Rather, the CBS host took the elephant in the room head-on as soon as deGrasse Tyson sat down on the Ed Sullivan Theater stage. Colbert quickly mentioned that last year, two women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the astrophysicist and host of National Geographic's StarTalk and Cosmos: Possible Worlds, which will air on Fox and National Geographic later this year. Their stories resurfaced another claim of misconduct from 2014. In March, following multiple investigations into the alleged behavior and hiatuses to his entertainment work, deGrasse Tyson was restored to his role as host on both shows.
"I can't imagine that was a particularly satisfying result for you or these women," Colbert said of the end of the investigations, before asking Tyson how the year had been for him since the allegations were first reported.
"It's been very long," deGrasse Tyson responded. "When I think about what I valued over that time, it was in particular the value of support from family, from friends, and friends such as you, and especially fans who were there the whole time."
Colbert then continued to prompt deGrasse Tyson on the matter, saying, "A lot of people have been asked the question, what can we learn from this?"
DeGrasse Tyson continued on the same theme, saying, "That's what I learned: I learned that I had friends in a time of need and a time of stress." As a scientist, he added, he often thought objectively and not emotionally. "When I needed it most, people were there for me."
The CBS host noted that although the allegations had been adjudicated, "it is an emotional experience" for fans to have the accusations lingering in their minds, to which deGrasse Tyson responded that he only tried to be a "vehicle" for the wonders of the universe and did not attempt to seek attention for himself.
Several social-media users watching the appearance weren't satisfied with deGrasse Tyson's responses on Monday. "If your answer to sexual harassment questions is 'thanks to family, friends, and fans for supporting me', that doesn't appear to show much growth or act as an apology," one user tweeted.
"For a professional communicator, these are oddly weak responses from Neil deGrasse Tyson on @colbertlateshow regarding the misconduct allegations against him of which he was cleared. He's talking about his own support network but not about what the women may have felt," another added.
In November 2018, two women, a Bucknell University professor and a former assistant, came forward in a story in Patheos claiming that the astrophysicist had made inappropriate sexual advances toward them. Their claims joined a 2014 blog post from a former graduate-school classmate of deGrasse Tyson's, who claimed he had drugged and raped her. Fox and National Geographic initially responded by pulling the scientist's shows and initiating investigations.
In a long blog post in 2018, deGrasse Tyson offered his own version of the alleged events, concluding, "Accusations can damage a reputation and a marriage. Sometimes irreversibly. I see myself as loving husband and as a public servant — a scientist and educator who serves at the will of the public. I am grateful for the support I've received from those who continue to respect and value me and my work."
DeGrasse Tyson was on The Late Show to promote his new book Letters from an Astrophysicist.
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.
Actor Rami Malek joined Stephen Colbert on The Late Show on Wednesday, where he talked about the upcoming fourth and final season of Mr. Robot and working opposite his favorite James Bond.
The late-night host began the conversation by mentioning Malek's Oscar win for playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, which Malek called "one of the greatest challenges" of his life. He said that he still keeps in touch with Queen, and saw them recently at the Global Citizen festival.
And then the focus turned to Malek's casting as the villain in the new James Bond movie opposite Daniel Craig. "Can you tell us anything?" Colbert asked. Malek declared Craig to be his favorite Bond, and recalled a moment he had with the actor while they were filming the movie. He said they were rehearsing a particularly complicated scene and bouncing ideas back and forth. After they had finally cracked it, Craig picked up Malek off the floor. He's not sure exactly who initiated this moment, but "a kiss transpired between the two of us," he said. He took a moment, and then said to Craig, "Does this make me a Bond girl?"
Moving onto the final season of Mr. Robot, which Malek has been a part of for five years, Colbert highlighted one of the show's unique qualities. "You are in the mind of an introverted character, we —are your confidant." Malek said he loved the first season, but"is equal to it or better. It's a great way to end it. It's bittersweet."
Colbert said that the show feels real on a lot of levels, and asked Malek if he ever worries how true to life the characters or situations are. The actor said he used to go to Sam Esmailand say things like, "this is a stretch," referring to certain narrative arcs. But after the first couple of seasons, he encouraged the director to just "let it rip."
Speaking of the impact that Mr. Robot has had on its audience, Malek said that during the Bohemian Rhapsody press tour he was often stopped by people who were as affected by Freddie Mercury as they were byElliot. The character seems to encourage people to speak out, he noted, adding how honored he is to be part of such a special project.
The season three finale saw Elliot preparing to undo the Five/Nine Hack, which Esmail teased will bring the show back to its original premise of Elliot wanting to take down the guys behind the scenes who are manipulating society.
"The journey between seasons one to three has been about discovering who the real culprits are," he told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. "The hack was merely a distraction that was co-opted by these people, and it's finally been revealed and exposed to Elliot. In a weird way, the next season will return back to that initial premise of the show and have Elliot be motivated by that, with this new clarity."
The final season of the USA Network computer hacker drama premieres Oct. 6.
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.”
Amid news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders sounded off on the news during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night.
"Donald Trump is probably the most corrupt president in the modern history of this country," the presidential hopeful told the late-night host when asked about the recent controversy. "The impeachment inquiry has got to move as quickly as possible. He is really an embarrassment to our country."
Sanders continued to reiterate that Congress needs to "get moving" on the impeachment inquiry, as he says he's been calling for one "for months." The Vermont senator continued to refer to the controversy as an "outrage on top of an outrage" and proclaimed "enough is enough with this guy."
"This is not complicated and it's consistent with his behavior. I'm not sure that he knows the difference between lying and truth telling. I doubt he understands what the Constitution of the United States of America is about."
"He grew up as a very rich kid. I think he's a spoiled brat and I think he thinks he can do whatever he wants to do," Sanders said.
"Other people work hard, they tell the truth and pay their taxes. That is not Donald Trump. We have to explain to him what he Constitution of the United States is about."
The impeachment inquiry arrived amid news of a July 25 phone call the president had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump is said to have asked for help investigating Biden and his son Hunter. In the days before the call, Trump allegedly ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, prompting speculation that he was holding up the money as leverage for information on the Bidens.
Pelosi called Trump's alleged act a "betrayal of his oath of office." Declaring that "no one is above the law," Pelosi said when declaring the inquiry, "The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of his national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections."
Trump has denied that charge but acknowledged he blocked the funds.
"They're going to lose the election, and they figure this is a thing to do," Trump told reporters. Speaking of Pelosi, he added, "If she does that, they all say that's a positive for me, for the election. You could also say, 'Who needs it? It's bad for the country.'"
TONIGHT: Presidential candidate Senator @BernieSanders says when it comes to Trump, "enough is enough." #LSSC pic.twitter.com/5PhZi42MIO
— The Late Show @colbertlateshow September 27, 2019