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Dead for 64 Years, James Dean to Star in New Film


FILE PHOTO: A portrait of U.S. actor James Dean hangs from a fence near the intersection of Highways 46 and 41 near Cholame, California September 30, 2005.
Dead for 64 Years, James Dean to Star in New Film
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American actor James Dean has been dead for 64 years. The star of Rebel Without a Cause died at the age of 25 in September 1955. Yet, he will star in a new movie about the Vietnam War thanks to digital technology.

The makers of the movie “Finding Jack” announced this month that they plan to use computer-generated images of James Dean in the film. The images will come from old film clips and pictures of Dean. Another actor is to provide the voice.

Other movies have had digitally created performances by dead actors, but most of them had already played parts in the film, like Peter Cushing. He first appeared in the very first Star Wars film. Cushing died in 1994. Yet images of him were digitally recreated for the 2016 Star Wars film Rogue One.

The idea that one of the movies’ most beloved former stars would be recreated digitally for a new film has been met with criticism. Captain America actor Chris Evans called the plans to use Dean’s image in the film disrespectful and wrongheaded.

“Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes,” said Evans on Twitter.

The Hollywood Reporter was the first to report the news.

The producers of Finding Jack got the rights to Dean’s likeness through CMG Worldwide. The company represents Dean’s family as well as the intellectual property rights of many other famous people who are dead. They include astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the actors Bette Davis and Burt Reynolds.

Mark Roesler is the chairman and chief executive of CMG. He defended the decision to use images of James Dean. He said the company has represented the actor’s family for many years. Noting that Dean has more than 183,000 followers on Instagram, Roesler said he is still important today.

Postal and film industry officials view the unveiling of the new James Dean stamp at a ceremony, June 24, 1996 on the lot where Dean filmed "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause," at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif.
Postal and film industry officials view the unveiling of the new James Dean stamp at a ceremony, June 24, 1996 on the lot where Dean filmed "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause," at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif.


“James Dean was known as Hollywood’s ‘rebel’ and he famously said ‘if a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man,’” Roesler said. “What was considered rebellious in the ’50s is very different than what is rebellious today, and we feel confident that he would support this modern day act of rebellion.”

Finding Jack is about the U.S. military’s decision to leave behind the dogs that had aided soldiers when the Vietnam War ended. The story is based on the book written by Gareth Crocker.

Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh are the film’s directors. In an email, Ernst said they respect Dean’s life and history.

The movie “is one of hope and love,” said Ernst. “There is still a lot of James Dean's fans worldwide…there would always be critics, and all we can do is tell a great story with humanity.”

Ernst added that the Dean family “views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”

Dean starred in just three movies before he died in a car crash. They are Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

digital – adj. using or related to computer technology

generate – v. to create or produce

intellectual property – n. an idea, invention, or process that comes from a person's mind

confident adj. to be sure of oneself; feeling secure

fan – n. someone who loves or actively follows someone or something

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