De-aging in film
In film and television, de-aging is a visual effects technique used to make an actor look younger, especially for flashback scenes. This is often accomplished via digitally editing the image or using computer-generated imagery (CGI) overlays or touch-ups. Some movies will even create de-aged digital actors from scratch or with a mixture of stand-ins and CGI.
List of films
The following is a list of films, in chronological order of release, that employ de-aging techniques:
|2006||X-Men: The Last Stand||Actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who play the mutants Professor X and Magneto respectively, are de-aged in a flashback scene in which the two work together to recruit a mutant girl as a student.|
|2008||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||Based on a short story in which the protagonist ages backwards, actor Brad Pitt, who plays Benjamin Button, is initially shown as elderly and is gradually de-aged to look progressively younger as numerous decades of the character's life go by.|
|2009||X-Men Origins: Wolverine||In this superhero film, Patrick Stewart, who plays mutant Professor X, is de-aged for a brief cameo appearance, as the film takes place earlier in the timeline than the previous films of the series in which Stewart participated.|
|2010||Tron: Legacy||A sequel to the 1982 film, set 28 years later, actor Jeff Bridges, who plays the protagonist Kevin Flynn in the original film, is de-aged to appear as Flynn's younger self in flashbacks and as the corrupt program Clu, a copy of Flynn himself, but decades younger. Bruce Boxleitner, who plays the title character of Tron, also appears de-aged in flashbacks; his real world character of Alan Bradley, however, appears as the actor's natural age.|
|2013||Grudge Match||A film about Robert De Niro (Billy "The Kid" McDonnen) and Sylvester Stallone (Henry "Razor" Sharp) as boxing rivals. In the beginning of the film, both actors are de-aged to show them fighting each other in their youth/prime. The rest of the film is set several decades later.|
|2013||The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug||This film is set decades before The Lord of the Rings film trilogy; actor Orlando Bloom reprises his role as the Elf character Legolas and is de-aged in his scenes, to reflect the fact that the film's Elves do not age.|
|2014||Kingsman: The Secret Service||Michael Caine was digitally de-aged for a scene set in 1975 featuring his character. This scene was ultimately cut from the film and has never been publicly released. |
|2015||Ant-Man||Michael Douglas and Martin Donovan, who play Hank Pym and Mitchell Carson, are both de-aged by 25 years,in a flashback scene set in 1989(but filmed in 2014) .|
|2016||Pee-wee's Big Holiday||In this comedy film, actor Paul Reubens reprises his role as Pee-wee Herman 28 years after the previous Pee-wee film. De-aging was applied to Reubens to make him appear the same age as he was in his last appearance. During filming, Reubens wore powder and tape on his face.|
|2016||Fan||In this Indian film, Shah Rukh Khan stars in a double role as film star Aryan Khanna and obsessive fan Gaurav Chandna, who looks like Aryan but is around twenty years younger. Khan was de-aged for the part of Gaurav with a combination of visual effects and prosthetics.|
|2016||Captain America: Civil War||Robert Downey Jr., who plays Tony Stark, is de-aged in a digital recreation of a pivotal moment from the character's youth.|
|2016||Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children||Terence Stamp, who plays Abe Portman, is de-aged in the scenes in the loop of September 3, 1943, when he was in the army.|
|2017||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2||Kurt Russell, who plays Ego, is de-aged in a flashback scene set on Earth in the 1980s.|
|2017||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales||In this swashbuckler, Johnny Depp, who plays the main character Jack Sparrow, is de-aged for a flashback scene.|
|2017||Kingsman: The Golden Circle||Colin Firth was de-aged for a flashback scene, years before the events of the first film.|
|2018||Ant-Man and the Wasp||Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne who play Hank Pym, Janet van Dyne, and Bill Foster, respectively, are de-aged in flashback sequences.|
|2018||Aquaman||Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman are de-aged characters using CGI to portray Aquaman's parents, Thomas Curry and Atlanna, in opening scenes set during Aquaman's childhood. In addition, CGI was used to de-age Willem Dafoe for the scene where Nuidis Vulko trains the young Arthur Curry.|
|2019||Captain Marvel||Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg, who portray Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, are de-aged by 23 years for the entire film as it is set in 1995(but filmed in 2018), whereas the previous films in which they had appeared in these roles had all been set in the present day.|
|2019||Avengers: Endgame||Multiple actors were digitally de-aged for different sequences. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner were digitally de-aged for their 2012 appearances that recreate scenes from The Avengers (2012) in which they respectively portray Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton. Michael Douglas, John Slattery, and Stan Lee were also digitally de-aged for their 1970s appearances, in which they respectively portray Hank Pym, Howard Stark, and a car driver. The final cut of the film features 200 de-aging and aging shots.|
|2019||It Chapter Two||Horror sequel in which child actors Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, and Jackson Robert Scott were digitally de-aged to reprise their roles from It (2017) in flashback scenes, having visibly aged in the two-year interval.|
|2019||Gemini Man||In this science fiction film, actor Will Smith was de-aged to portray a younger clone of his character.|
|2019||The Irishman||In this epic crime film, actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci were digitally de-aged to portray younger versions of Frank Sheeran, Jimmy Hoffa, and Russell Bufalino respectively.|
|2019||Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker||In this conclusive instalment of the fantasy saga franchise, Mark Hamill was de-aged in a flashback scene where he trains his sister, Leia Organa. Organa on the other hand was played by Billie Lourd, daughter of original actress Carrie Fisher who died in late 2016.|
|2020||Tenet||Kenneth Branagh was de-aged in a flashback for his character Sator.|
|2020||Bill & Ted Face the Music||A comic science fiction film starring Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan. They portray younger and older versions of Bill & Ted.|
|2021||Coming 2 America||In this comedic sequel, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall were de-aged in a flashback.|
|2021||Candyman||Tony Todd, reprising his role as the original Candyman, appears de-aged at the end of the film.|
|2021||Spider-Man: No Way Home||Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina reprised their roles as Norman Osborn / Green Goblin and Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus, respectively, and were both de-aged to match their appearances from 2002's Spider-Man and 2004's Spider-Man 2, respectively.|
In some cases, a young version of a character is not played by the original actor but by a virtual actor, even though the actor being represented is usually still alive. This is usually accomplished with some combination of CGI, a body double, and a voice double or archival audio. Examples of actors who were replaced by virtual actors to portray their younger selves include:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 in Terminator Salvation (2009); Roland Kickinger served as body double.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys (2015) in a scene which depicts the same T-800 from The Terminator; Brett Azar served as body double.
- Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016); Guy Henry served as both body and voice double.
- Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) - Ingvild Deila served as body double; archive audio of Carrie Fisher's voice, taken from outtakes of her hologram scene in A New Hope, was used. - and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) - Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd served as body double.
- Sean Young as Rachael in Blade Runner 2049 (2017) where a clone of the replicant is created by Niander Wallace and is offered to Rick Deckard in exchange for information. Loren Peta served as body double, while archival audio clips of Young were used for the voice.
- Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in "Chapter 16: The Rescue", the sixteenth episode of The Mandalorian (2020); Max Lloyd Jones served as body double, while Hamill's younger voice was recreated using speech synthesis through machine learning.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Edward Furlong in Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) - although all three appeared in their film as their current ages, virtual actors were used for their characters in flashback scenes. Brett Azar, Maddy Curley and Jude Collie served as the three characters' body doubles, respectively.
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He’s supposed to be playing a younger version of Professor Xavier, but the C.G.I. employed is so jarringly off that he looks about as human as Jar Jar Binks.
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- "'Kingsman' Deleted Scene Features a Young Michael Caine". Movieweb. 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
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- Oller, Jacob (August 1, 2019). "It: Chapter Two features de-aged kids and a new scene direct from Stephen King". Syfy. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
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