How Ang Lee ‘Cast’ a 23-Year-Old Will Smith in ‘Gemini Man’
Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee makes his directorial return with “Gemini Man”, a groundbreaking action-thriller that highlights the notion that our own worst enemy is ourselves.
The film follows assassin Henry Brogan, played by Will Smith, as he is “targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move,”Paramount Pictures notes.
Lee, along with Smith and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, was met with excitement and applause during a press conference at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles as they discussed the innovations of not just “Gemini Man”, but film technology in general.
The tech used in “Gemini Man” gave 51-year-old Smith a chance to duke it out with his 23-year-old self.
“I would like to make it clear that we are not de-aging. I rather think that we are creating a new character, a youthful Will Smith which is not how I remember this guy,” Lee joked. “It’s artistic endeavor. And this guy [Smith] really put himself out there.”
Lee returns to the big screen filming in 3D with a high frame rate technique, which the 64-year-old director used in his previous film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” and Bruckheimer praised in “Gemini Man”.
“You have to understand what Ang has done. This is so different just to do it at 24 frames on film or digitally. He did it at 124 frames,” Bruckheimer explained. “When you see this film, it’s lifelike. You can’t wear makeup. It is unbelievable what Ang has accomplished.”
One of the challenges everyone involved in the film faced was learning how to use the technology and experimenting on how to bring a digital character to life, not only in an action movie, but a dramatic one as well.
“As an actor, it’s a little scary because none of the old tricks worked. You can hide in 24 frames the different ways that you perform,” Smith said. “With the 3D camera, every shot is up close. It’s so in your face, in every little pore, in every detail.”
Although motion capture was used to create a younger Smith, Lee says his directing all comes down to the details and his “gut feeling.”
“You really feel that depth of life and emotion. Then that would translate to the audience,” the Academy Award-winning director said.
“Through those details, you can play in the post-production,” Lee continued. “But during shooting, this guy [Smith] has to be real, has to be complicated, it has to be subtle. It has to be mature.”
Lee has directed intimate dramas as well as big action flicks such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and “Gemini Man” combines both of those elements.
“If it doesn’t grab me, it doesn’t grab anybody,” he said. “You have to really project your own emotion. 3D is a different language and we’re not really aware of it. It gives the illusion of real dimensions.”
Other than creating clones or making somebody look younger on-screen, digital filmmaking has come a long way as an art form.
“[Digital humans] is a lot harder than actors and a lot more expensive,” Lee concluded. “I’m sure in the future, we get more experience and it will make it cheaper.”
“Gemini Man”, which also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong, hits theaters on October 11.