In GEMINI MAN, Will Smith stars as Henry Brogan, a highly-skilled assassin who wants to put killing behind him. His employers don't want to let him go, however, and they send an experimental soldier to take him out: Junior, a 23-year old killer cloned from Brogan's DNA.
So GEMINI MAN pits Will Smith against himself. This matchup took a huge amount of technological innovation to pull off. Junior is a digital recreation of the young Will Smith, and director Ang Lee isn't shy about training the camera directly at Junior for long takes. That means the digital clone has to be as good as a real actor.
We spoke to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, co-star Clive Owen, director Ang Lee, and visual effects supervisors Guy Williams and Bill Westenhofer to learn how they made the movie.
"Everything you see on frame, all of the 23-year-old Will Smith, is Will Smith," says Visual Effects Supervisor Guy Williams. "We've taken his performance and put it on this 23-year-old digital construct." To make that work, Williams told us how another actor was always on set to interact with Will Smith. "The way we did that during shooting was, we would have Will Smith on frame with Victor Hugo, his acting partner, and they would act out the scene traditionally. It gives Will a chance to have somebody to perform to."
"Then, later, what we do in post is we flip that equation around. Will Smith now performs the role of Junior, and Victor Hugo is playing the role of Henry, but we're piping Will's audio from the original take back in. So Will is delivering lines back to himself," Williams explained.
"There was no magic button to bring the naïveté of the performance, says Visual Effects Supervisor Bill Westenhofer. "That was all Will trying to channel his 23-year-old self."
All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures.