- Visual effects supervisor Guy Williams reveals that Will Smith’s character in Gemini Man was rendered entirely with CGI in one scene, showing the impressive lengths the effects team went to.
- The CGI Smith had to match every minute detail of the real-life Smith, including pores and sweat, and any misstep in the movements between them would ruin the shot.
- This use of CGI in Gemini Man speaks to the power of the technology and its potential to replace actors in scenes, even when it goes unnoticed by viewers.
Visual effects supervisor Guy Williams reveals that Will Smith was rendered entirely with CGI in one scene from Gemini Man that flew under the radar. Smith starred in the 2019 action thriller as Henry Brogan, a middle-aged, retired assassin who fights off his own attempted assassination, only to discover that the young man pursuing him is none other than a 25-year-old clone of himself. In order to bring this clone, Junior, to life, Smith was rendered with CGI and de-aged in the film, and he acted opposite himself.
In an interview with Corridor Crew, Williams reveals that Junior was not the only instance of Will Smith being completely digital in Gemini Man. During a high-speed motorcycle chase scene in Colombia, Henry screeches to a halt and pulls out a gun. For the wide angle shots of Henry on the bike, there’s a stunt person driving with Smith’s face rendered onto him. For the close up of Henry pulling out the gun, however, according to Williams, the Smith shown on screen is completely digital. Read his comments about the scene below, or check it out in the video at the 6:58 minute mark:
“We had him do it, but he couldn’t drive the bike up to the point, so we would have to do some kind of really elaborate transition from a stunt guy on a bike to Will Smith. So, once you’re there, the transition’s almost harder than just carrying it on until the end of the shot.”
Gemini Man’s Effects Team Went To Impressive Lengths to Digitize Will Smith
Williams dives deep into all the work that went into bringing the CGI Smith to life for Gemini Man, and it’s clear that a great deal of thought and effort was put into each shot. For the brief digital rendering of Henry, for example, the visual effects team was tasked with matching every minute detail of the real life Smith to his digital copy, down to his pores and beads of sweat. Gemini Man employed groundbreaking technology and was shot at 120 frames-per-second in 4K, meaning there was no room for error, especially for close-ups.
The effects for Junior had even higher stakes. Even one misstep in the movements between real-life Smith and his digital rendering would “wreck the entire shot,” Williams said. He notes that the effects team would receive feedback from director Ang Lee, and that they knew when they had made a mistake when Lee told them that Junior looked like a real person, just not like Smith himself, but rather his cousin. Considering Lee’s vision for Gemini Man was for it to be viewed in 3D with the 120 fps and 4K resolution, the crew tasked themselves with executing this vision with care, which included designing pores that stretched and changing Junior’s melanin density to match his facial movements.
Using CGI to alter actors’ physicality is common in Hollywood nowadays, and Smith is no stranger to this practice, as seen with another 2019 movie, Disney’s live-action Aladdin. The quality of the CGI ranges from impressive and believable to uncanny valley levels of poor. The shot in Gemini Man going unnoticed for so long, even with blatant use of CGI all throughout the film, speaks to how powerful this technology is and the potential it has to replace actors in scenes they would otherwise be expected to appear in.
Source: Corridor Crew