Bruce Willis was back in headlines last week as news broke that the actor had seemingly sold the rights to his face to Deepcake, an international AI startup specializing in deepfakes. Willis’ representatives, however, are contesting these reports.
Willis and Deepcake previously collaborated on a 2021 Russian phone ad, with an AI-generated likeness of the actor appearing in the spot. The sale of Willis’ face to Deepcake reportedly allowed the company to create the actor’s digital twin in perpetuity to insert him into future movies. Except this deal apparently does not exist, per Willis’ representatives, despite quotes on Deepcake’s website about the actor’s excitement for his upcoming collaboration with the company.
In a statement shared with Gizmodo, Willis’ representatives stated that the actor “has no partnership or agreement with this Deepcake company.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a representative from Deepcake has said that Willis’ digital-likeness cannot be sold, as those rights belong to him. While the company did collaborate with Willis on the previously Russian phone campaign, any future use of Willis’ deepfakes by Deepcake would be up to the actor. Deepcake did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for a response to the Willis team’s statement.
“I liked the precision of my character. It’s a great opportunity for me to go back in time,” said Willis on the Deepcake website. “With the advent of the modern technology, I could communicate, work and participate in filming, even being on another continent.”
In March, Willis’ family announced the actor’s retirement from acting on Instagram following his diagnosis of aphasia. Willis’ digital twin could, theoretically, allow the actor to continue his career after retiring.
Update November 17 1:05 pm: A previous version of this article referred to Deepcake as a Russian startup. Deepcake clarified to Gizmodo via email that they have no presence in Russia and instead are an international startup.