Right now both the WGA and SAG are going on strike. This the first time both guilds have gone on strike at the same time since 1960.
Now, there are many issues at the heart of the strike. One is the demand from actors and writers to be paid the residuals they are owed from each of the streaming services. The biggest one quite literally comes in the form of Artificial Intelligence, or A.I. And for good reason. There have been concerns that studios plan on trying to use A.I in place of real actors and writers and those concerns have been proven true.
Since the strike began, there have been numerous reports of actors saying the studios wanted to scan their likeness and never have to pay them beyond the one day of work. Other actors have said the studios already scanned their likenesses without even telling them what it was for. These are very valid concerns and there’s one studio in particular that I think needs to take a hard look at how not just the actors and writers but how the audiences are reacting to this idea too: Lucasfilm.
READ: OPINION- Why Lucasfilm Should Rethink Its Stance On Recasting Characters
Using technology to digitally de-age actors has been going on for awhile now. But Lucasfilm has been pushing it to the point that it feels uncomfortable. While some studios only ever used the technology as a means to touch up an older actor’s face (think Tron: Legacy), Lucasfilm has gotten to the point where it feels like they’re doing it to avoid ever casting any new actors ever again.
And I think that the problem only worsened after the box office disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story. That movie’s lukewarm reception burned the wrong message in minds of Lucasfilm’s top executives. seemed to have burned the wrong message into their heads. What studios don’t realize is that the movie didn’t bomb because it wasn’t Harrison Ford playing the character. It bombed because it was barely marketed it and released approximately 6 months after another Star Wars film. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover were the furthest thing from the problem. Still, Lucasfilm seems convinced that recasting is no longer an option.
Now, it started for the company with the de-aged versions of General Tarkin and Princess Leia in Rogue One. While those sequences were extremely short, they unironically offered “a new hope” of keeping some actors alive. They continued to test the waters with the season 2 final of The Mandalorian. But by the time we returned to Luke in Book of Boba Fett, it was clear that the face belonged to Mark Hamill but that Lucasfilm was using someone else’s body. In the latest Indiana Jones film, Harrison Ford is de-aged during the entire prologue. While it does look immaculate, it’s also the company’s longest experiment with the technology to date.
Since Dave Filoni’s feature Star Wars film was announced, there has been speculation that it will feature much more of the de-aging technology so that the story can follow the young versions of Luke, Han, and Leia again. While that is just a rumor and could end up not being true, what’s scary is that Lucasfilm totally has the means to do it.
Not only would it not make sense because there’s already an actor who was cast as a young Han Solo, it would deprive real opportunity from tons of other great young actors. This is also unnecessary extra work that you’re forcing on the already overworked VFX artists,
And in regards to the late and great Carrie Fisher, I think it would be in poor taste because she only ever gave consent to use her likeness in Rogue One – Rise of Skywalker was a unique situation where they worked around footage they had already shot with her. So to do a brand new movie with her character completely made up of CGI would fee wrong.
Right now, I think every major studio needs to seriously reconsider their stance on technology. Sure, it helps, but if abused it can cause long-term damage. Not just to actors, but to art. And Lucasfilm’s strong reliance on it lately only affirms that.