Bruce Willis Is the First Big Star to Sell His Likeness to Deepfake Company

The future is digital and, for Bruce Willis fans, perhaps a tad rosier than what it was a few months ago, when the actor announced his retirement from the industry after being diagnosed with brain disorder aphasia.
Deepfake Bruce Willis in MegaFon ad series 6 photos
Photo: YouTube / MegaFon
Deepfake Bruce Willis in MegaFon ad seriesDeepfake Bruce Willis in MegaFon ad seriesDeepfake Bruce Willis in MegaFon ad seriesDeepfake Bruce Willis in MegaFon ad seriesDeepfake Bruce Willis in MegaFon ad series
There is a new Bruce Willis on the market, and at first sight, he’s the same guy as the one we’ve come to love from blockbuster action movies. Yet this isn’t really Bruce Willis, even though whoever he is will be billed under his name. Are you confused?

Bruce Willis has become the first Hollywood star to sell his likeness to a deepfake company, The Telegraph reports. That company is one he’s worked with before, back in 2021, for a series of ads for Russian telecoms company MegaFon, called Deepcake. Deepcake now owns Willis’ likeness for a “digital twin” created using deepfake technology, which they will be able to offer for roles the real Willis will no longer be available for.

Deepcake will now be able to use a stand-in actor (*must be bald) to shoot projects of all kinds, and then, using machine learning and AI, superimpose Willis’ face and/or voice on the footage. The first indication as to how future Bruce Willis projects might look comes from the MegaFon ads, two of which you can see below.

Ethical implications aside, Deepcake says that this is one case in which technology will serve a greater cause, helping nostalgic fans see their late idols back on the screen or, as is the case here, help actors continue working even when they can’t be physically present. For Willis, working in front of a camera is no longer possible, due to his aphasia diagnosis, which leads to issues with reading, speaking, writing and listening.

“I liked the precision with which my character turned out. It’s a mini-movie in my usual action-comedy genre. For me, it is a great opportunity to go back in time,” Willis said last year, when his digital twin made his first appearance. “With the advent of modern technology, even when I was on another continent, I was able to communicate, work and participate in the filming. It’s a very new and interesting experience, and I thank our entire team.”

Deepfake has been used in Hollywood before, to more or less satisfying results, whether to de-age characters or make them older and even to add them in scenes they weren’t present for. But this is the first time a star of Willis’ caliber signs off on his likeness to a deepfake company, virtually granting it the power to put him back in ads or movies.

It’s almost as if Bruce Willis’ capability to save the world is so great that he doesn’t even need to be present for it to happen.

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Editor's note: Photos in the gallery show deepfake Bruce Willis by Deepcake.

About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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