A Deepfake Bruce Willis is Now Starring in Russian Phone Commercials
Bruce Willis can be a very good actor when he tries. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really tried in a long time. When was the last genuinely good Willis performance, where he was clearly engaged with the material and not just cashing a paycheck? Looper, perhaps? A movie that’s almost 10 years old? Now, it looks like Willis’ laziness has transcended film into commercials, with the actor agreeing to let Russian company MegaFon use a deepfake of his face for a series of commercials.
Deepfake Bruce Willis
I continue to be uneasy about deepfakes, a technology that seems like it can only be used for evil instead of good. The tech, which has become increasingly more efficient, is able to digitally drop someone’s face onto another person’s body, and if you don’t think that’s just a little unsettling, I don’t know what to tell you. In any case, one actor is using deepfake tech to his advantage. That actor: Bruce Willis, perhaps the laziest man in Hollywood.
In the commercial above for MegaFon, which Google tells me is “the second-largest mobile phone operator and the third-largest telecom operator in Russia,” Willis can be seen with Russian actor Azamat Musagaliev. Sort of. It’s actually just Willis’ face on another actor’s body (you can see a behind-the-scene image of the actor “playing” Willis here).
At this point I should add that the main source for this news is a Russian publication translated to English, so we don’t have 100% confirmation of exactly what’s going on here. But the commercial above clearly exists, and it’s clearly using a creepy deepfake of Willis’ face. And, if an interview with Vasili Bolshakov, Director for Brand and Marketing Communications at MegaFon, is to be believed, Willis signed off on this whole thing. He would have to, or else MegaFon would be about to face a huge lawsuit.
“A Very Risky Idea”
In the (translated) interview with Bolshakov, he says:
“All negotiations with Bruce Willis were conducted by our team. It was a very risky idea, but surprisingly, the discussion on collaboration was quick and productive. We told Bruce about MegaFon and the idea of the project. The actor was interested in the brand and our approach to organizing production.”
The deal includes a whole series of commercials featuring the Bruce Willis deepfake, with Bolshakov adding that the deepfake was “created using face generation technology, which is based on neural network algorithms. To do this, the engineers of the Deepcake studio selected a large amount of photo and video materials with the participation of celebrities – it turned out 34 thousand units of content, from which the neural network created the image of Bruce’s character.”
As weirdly humorous as this all sounds, and as lazy as it continues to make Willis seem, I also have to hand it to him. Someone reached out to him and said, “Hey, can we pay you a huge chunk of change to do no actual work?” That’s the American dream, right there! Who could turn down such an offer? Not you, not me, and not Bruce Willis, that’s for damn sure.
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