In the pantheon of people who have been taken away from us far too soon, Rebel Without a Cause star James Dean is at the top of the list. The leather jacket-wearing, cigarette-toting cultural icon who couldn’t take a bad photo if he tried died in a 1955 car crash at just 24 years old, but his legend continues to live on.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Rebel Without a Cause star will be brought back to “life” using CGI for the role of Rogan in the upcoming Vietnam action-drama, Finding Jack.
It’s not just a short little cameo (ala Carrie Fisher in Rogue One) either as Dean will be playing a sizeable “secondary lead role”. The plan is to recreate the late actor with CGI using actual footage and photos while someone else provides the voice.
As for why Dean was cast instead of, I don’t know, the many living actors currently working in Hollywood, Finding Jack co-director Anton Ernst explains:
“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean.”
James Dean was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of star and replicating him using CGI isn’t just disrespectful, it’s completely pointless. Art isn’t something a computer can just pump out and it’s already been proven that trying to do so will end in nothing but misery (and unintentional hilarity).
Why do you think Rebel Without a Cause hasn’t been remade yet? There was only one James Dean and he’s gone, and no amount of computer trickery can recreate what he brought to the movie screen.
Then there’s the gross commercial aspect of this whole stunt casting saga. I get that Hollywood exists to make money, but shamelessly capitalising on a deceased star’s image like this is pretty unsavoury, even for Hollywood.
This whole thing also takes that god-awful excuse of “oh we simply couldn’t find the right actor/actress for the role” to a new low. I simply refuse to believe there isn’t an actor/actress alive right now who could handle the role of Rogan in Finding Jack.
This whole thing over why resurrecting James Dean using CGI is a terrible idea is perhaps best summed up by none other than Chris Evans:
It’s already weird enough to recreate deceased actors using CGI for roles they previously played (like Peter Cushing in Rogue One…again), let alone generating an entirely new character and performance.
So to those geniuses working on Finding Jack who thought this whole thing was a good idea, please just let James Dean rest in peace and go find another actor. Hollywood isn’t short on talented folk who could easily play the role.
Honestly, the Finding Jack directors should just go cast Scarlet Johannson or something at this point. She’ll be a massive improvement over the plans they have for James Dean.