Martin Scorsese, don’t de-age Robert De Niro, give young actors a chance

Artificially recreating a false version of youth begs a few questions – for starters, is this expensive technique being deployed because of the massive egos involved?

Janet Street-Porter
Friday 23 December 2016 12:16
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Scorsese plans to use CGI to return De Niro to his youthful looks
Scorsese plans to use CGI to return De Niro to his youthful looks

Martin Scorsese is finally shooting a long-cherished project that’s been years in development, a gangster epic The Irishman, starring his buddy Robert De Niro. The 73 year old will play a mob hitman who despatches more than 25 people in the film scheduled for release in 2018.

Instead of makeup and prosthetics, the producers claim that for scenes as a younger man, CGI will be used to “de-age” De Niro back through the decades to the way he looked in The Godfather: Part II.

Westworld fans have already seen the 78-year-old Sir Anthony Hopkins wipe off the years using the same technique to play his younger self – but isn’t it cheating fans and denying younger actors work? Al Pacino is rumoured to be talking about joining the cast of The Irishman – it remains to be seen what “special effects” he will demand – his face seems to have altered quite substantially over the years, and his hair colour is almost comical, ranging from dyed black to an odd ginger.

Artificially recreating a false version of youth begs a few questions – for starters, is this expensive technique being deployed because of the massive egos involved? It stinks in so many ways – it’s like airbrushing in photos, which is now routine. Whatever next? In February, David Bowie and Prince are both competing from beyond the grave at the Grammy awards for the best (non-classical) engineered album, as well as in several other non-competing categories. Will CGI be used to bring these artists back to life? Don’t tell me that’s in bad taste, because Elvis has been duetting with the likes of Barbra Streisand and recently “performed” live with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

In another development, you will soon be able to “talk” to someone who has died using artificial intelligence. In the USA, the founder of a tech company created a computer programme which simulated the speech patterns of her friend who was killed in a road accident. The company claims that a chat bot will allow users to hold a conversation with a dead person, as part of the grieving process, and they anticipate that the technique will soon be widely available. We’ve moved on from ouija boards, but dealing with death and ageing still seems challenging for some.

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