Dead for 64 Years, James Dean to Star in New Film

American actor James Dean has been dead for 64 years. The star of Rebel Without a Cause died at the age of 25 in September 1955. Yet, he will star in a new movie about the Vietnam War thanks to digital technology.

The makers of the movie “Finding Jack” announced this month that they plan to use computer-generated images of James Dean in the film. The images will come from old film clips and pictures of Dean. Another actor is to provide the voice.

Other movies have had digitally created performances by dead actors, but most of them had already played parts in the film, like Peter Cushing. He first appeared in the very first Star Wars film. Cushing died in 1994. Yet images of him were digitally recreated for the 2016 Star Wars film Rogue One.

The idea that one of the movies’ most beloved former stars would be recreated digitally for a new film has been met with criticism. Captain America actor Chris Evans called the plans to use Dean’s image in the film disrespectful and wrongheaded.

“Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple of new John Lennon tunes,” said Evans on Twitter.

The Hollywood Reporter was the first to report the news.

The producers of Finding Jack got the rights to Dean’s likeness through CMG Worldwide. The company represents Dean’s family as well as the intellectual property rights of many other famous people who are dead. They include astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the actors Bette Davis and Burt Reynolds.

Mark Roesler is the chairman and chief executive of CMG. He defended the decision to use images of James Dean. He said the company has represented the actor’s family for many years. Noting that Dean has more than 183,000 followers on Instagram, Roesler said he is still important today.

Postal and film industry officials view the unveiling of the new James Dean stamp at a ceremony, June 24, 1996, on the lot where Dean filmed East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif.

James Dean was known as Hollywood’s ‘rebel’ and he famously said ‘If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man,’” Roesler said. “What was considered rebellious in the ’50s is very different than what is rebellious today, and we feel confident that he would support this modern-day act of rebellion.”

Finding Jack is about the U.S. military’s decision to leave behind the dogs that had aided soldiers when the Vietnam War ended. The story is based on a book written by Gareth Crocker.

Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh are the film’s directors. In an email, Ernst said they respect Dean’s life and history.

The movie “is one of hope and love,” said Ernst. “There is still a lot of James Dean's fans worldwide…there would always be critics, and all we can do is tell a great story with humanity.”

Ernst added that the Dean family “views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”

Dean starred in just three movies before he died in a car crash. They are Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant.


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.


digital – adj. using or related to computer technology

•The company decided to go paperless which meant that all transactions were now digital.

generate – v. To create or produce

•In order to purchase this specific car, you would need to generate a higher income

intellectual-property – n. an idea, invention, or process that comes from a person's mind

The artist should protect their intellectual property against their competition.

confident – adj. to be sure of oneself; feeling secure

•I am confident that everything will work out better than we have planned.

fan – n. someone who loves or actively follows someone or something

I am such a fan of their music that I would love to see them perform live.


Answer these questions about the article

1. How old was James Dean when he died?

2. What movies did he star in before his death?

3. What was he known as in Hollywood?

4. What is the name of the movie that he will be starring in now?



Make a sentence

Make a sentence using these words.

digital, generate, intellectual property, confident, fan



Have a discussion on the following questions

1. What do you think of the idea of James Dean being in a film now?

2. Do you think it will be disrespectful to his memory? Explain your answer.

3. James Dean was known as a rebel in Hollywood? Which actor do you think will fit this description now?

4. Have you seen other actors that were digitally created? What do you think of their performances? If you haven’t, what do you think it would look like?