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This rumor needs to Die Hard: Bruce Willis denies selling face to deepfake biz

Superstar is still exclusively a meat popsicle

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

Media reports at the end of last month claimed Willis had signed some sort of wide-ranging deal allowing Deepcake, a business that uses machine learning with video production, to craft a so-called digital twin of his face to be used for future films and adverts. This would have made Willis the first actor, or one of the first actors, to have sold their image rights to a technology company, although we couldn't help but note that both the Top Gun: Maverick film and some parts of Star Wars, for instance, are using such synthetic imagery.

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

An agent working with Willis, however, denied he had sold his image rights to Deepcake. "Please know that Bruce has no partnership or agreement with this Deepcake company," the representative told the BBC.

A spokesperson from Deepcake also denied the reports. "The wording about rights is wrong… Bruce couldn't sell anyone any rights, they are his by default," the outfit said. Yes, we're just as confused as you are.

Willis has worked with Deepcake in the past – in 2021, specifically – for an advert for Russian telecommunications company MegaFon, where he appears to be strapped to an explosive. A short promotional video on Deepcake's website shows how the actor's face was superimposed onto a body by the video-production biz to make him appear in different scenes.

Deepcake confirmed it worked with Willis' team to produce the advert. "What he definitely did is that he gave us his consent (and a lot of materials) to make his digital twin" for that ad, the spokesperson said. So is this mix up a result of Willis' work with Deepcake being extrapolated to all future movies and media? Who knows: Willis' people are basically denying any link or relationship with Deepcake.

"I liked the precision of my character," Willis apparently said, or at least Deepcake reckons he said, as it's a quote on its website. "It's a great opportunity for me to go back in time. The neural network was trained on content of 'Die Hard' and 'Fifth Element,' so my character is similar to the images of that time.

"With the advent of the modern technology, I could communicate, work and participate in filming, even being on another continent. It's a brand new and interesting experience for me, and I am grateful to our team."

The BBC did not receive a response on whether the quote was accurate or not. The Register has asked Deepcake for further details. ®

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