Bruce Willis denies the face was sold to deepfake AI startup • The Register

Bruce Willis’ agent has denied that the Die Hard superstar sold his image rights entirely to an AI startup specializing in deepfake technology.

Media reports late last month claimed Willis had signed a sweeping deal that will allow Deepcake, a company that uses machine learning in video production, to create what it calls a digital twin of his face to use in future movie ads. This would have made Willis the first actor, or one of the first actors, to sell his image rights to a tech company, although we couldn’t help but note that both the Top Gun: Maverick movie, and some parts of Star Wars, use the Example of such synthetic images.

The 67-year-old actor retired from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a neurological disorder that affects people’s ability to understand language and communicate. AI algorithms used to duplicate his face and voice would allow a fake, virtual version of Willis to appear in films, even though his acting career is all but over.

However, an agent who worked with Willis denied that he had sold his image rights to Deepcake. “Please note that Bruce has no partnership or agreement with this deepcake company,” the BBC representative said.

A spokesman for Deepcake also denied the reports. “The wording about rights is wrong … Bruce couldn’t sell rights to anyone, they belong to him by default,” the outfit said. Yes, we are just as confused as you.

Willis has worked with Deepcake in the past — most notably in 2021 — for an ad for Russian telecom company MegaFon in which he appears to be strapped to an explosive. A short promotional video on Deepcake’s website shows how the video production superimposed the actor’s face onto a body to allow him to appear in various scenes.

Deepcake confirmed it worked with Willis’ team to produce the ad. “What he definitely did is give us his consent (and lots of materials) to create his digital twin for this ad,” the rep said. So is this mix-up a result of Willis’ work with Deepcake extrapolating to all future films and media? Who knows: the people at Willis basically deny any connection or relationship with Deepcake.

“I liked the precision of my character,” Willis apparently said, or at least Deepcake thinks he said it since it’s a quote on his website. “It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time. The neural network was trained on the content of ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Fifth Element’, so my character resembles the pictures from back then.

“With the advent of modern technology, I have been able to communicate, work and film, even on a different continent. It’s a brand new and interesting experience for me and I’m grateful to our team.”

The BBC received no reply as to whether or not the quote was correct. The registry has contacted Deepcake for more details. ® Bruce Willis denies the face was sold to deepfake AI startup • The Register

Rick Schindler

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