A new video uses deep fake technology to drastically improve de-aged Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy, making Clu much more convincing. Bridges played tech genius Kevin Flynn and his digital avatar Clu in the original Tron, released in 1982, and reprised both roles in the 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy. The long-awaited latter movie used cutting-edge CGI (for the time) to age Bridges down when he was playing Clu, who wouldn’t have aged in the intervening 28 years. Unfortunately, like much early use of the technology, the result was less than convincing, though Tron: Legacy’s de-aging tech influenced countless blockbusters over the next decade, from the MCU to Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.
However, with deep fake technology now available, many amateur filmmakers are showing you can replicate almost any celebrity’s face with the right software package. It’s led to a glut of videos that replace one actor for another, as in the case of a Back to the Future edit, which put Tom Holland and Robert Downey in the movie, as well as videos that improve upon Hollywood’s de-aging attempts. One such content creator is Shamook, who most recently improved The Irishman’s poor de-aging effects by using a deep fake of Robert de Niro from Goodfellas.
Now, Shamook has gone back to arguably the most notorious example of de-aging in movies, replacing the poor CGI in Tron: Legacy with a much better version using deep fake technology. Gone is the plastic-looking skin and bad stubble, replaced with an accurate recreation of Bridges when he was young. The video places the original alongside the new version in order for audiences to compare and the improvement is remarkable. You can see the edit below:
Unfortunately, the poor animation can still be seen with Clu’s mouth movements, something deep fake technology can’t fix, but the rest is almost totally lifelike. It’s a marked improvement on the original, which suffered from what is often called the Uncanny Valley effect, where audiences are unable to focus on the film because the character looks so unconvincing and creepy. It’s another example proving that widely available deep fake technology is better suited to de-aging actors than other, more expensive, CGI techniques that are now outdated.
It will be interesting to see if the upcoming sequel to Tron: Legacy, the third movie in the franchise, set to star Jared Leto, will bring Clu back from the ‘dead.’ If it does, they could do worse than employ someone like Shamook to perform the de-aging on Bridges, as it’s likely to be more convincing than if they use the same CGI techniques used in Tron: Legacy or The Irishman.