Just because an actor has passed a certain age, Hollywood can still make them look young due to CGI wizardry. From small flashback scenes to full-length movies, there have been numerous instances of actors being digitally de-aged. Take a look at 15 examples of actors who were digitally de-aged in movies:
15. Orlando Bloom (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
British actor Orlando Bloom made quite a name for himself after starring as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It was the role that catapulted him to superstardom and he went on to star in a string of hit movies such as Troy and four installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Having last portrayed Legolas in 2003, the actor returned to his roots a decade later to reprise the role in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Of course, 10 years can make a lot of difference to how a person looks and the same was the case with Bloom so he was digitally de-aged for the role.
14. Kurt Russell (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Kurt Russell made a fine addition, albeit a brief one, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the credit goes to Chris Pratt since he recommended him to portray his father Ego and director James Gunn readily agreed.
The key scenes set on planet Earth in the 1980s required Russell to be digitally de-aged and it was done magnificently by Lola VFX, a longtime collaborator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of special effects.
13. Samuel L. Jackson (Captain Marvel)
The character Nick Fury is essentially the glue that holds the Marvel Cinematic Universe together. He brought together various superheroes under one roof and it is hard to imagine anyone but Samuel L. Jackson playing him.
When the female-led Captain America was announced, fans initially assumed that a young actor would portray Fury since the movie was set way back in the 1990s. However, Jackson was asked to reprise the iconic role and he was digitally de-aged in post-production.
12. Mark Hamill (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
Die-hard fans could argue that Star Wars feels incomplete without Mark Hamill. The actor was still a rookie when he got his big break as Luke Skywalker and the role changed his career overnight. Thus, it came as no surprise when Hamill reprised the role in The Rise of Skywalker.
In the final installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Hamill serves as Kylo Ren’s maternal uncle. The role complements his aged look but not for a critical flashback scene in which he trains with his sister Leia. CGI did the trick once again as the actor was de-aged for the scene.
11. Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday)
Best known for his comedic role of Pee-wee Herman, Paul Reubens was more than excited to play the character again in a feature-length movie that was released exclusively on Netflix.
While the movie was released after 28 long years, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday was not set in the same time period. In fact, it started right where it left off. Therefore, Reubens had to rely on CGI to look 28 years younger. Furthermore, the actor had to wear tape and powder on his face during the shoot.
10. Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Based on the short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about a deformed baby named Benjamin being born with the appearance of an old man mere minutes away from his death. As he grows older, he ages in reverse.
For several scenes in which Benjamin aged in reverse, Brad Pitt was digitally de-aged so he can look accurate for the particular time periods. Achieving critical acclaim for the execution of the concept, the movie won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
9 Alfred Molina (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
Doctor Octopus is one of the main villains in Spider-Man: No Way Home, portrayed by the same actor who played the role in Spider-Man 2, Alfred Molina. Surprisingly, the Spidey villain is from the same timeline and has never aged.
17 years later, Molina no longer looks the same and that is where CGI comes in. So the actor was de-aged to look exactly like he did in Spider-Man 2. The same was the case with other actors who reprised their old characters.
8. Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
Arguably the most dominant director-actor collaboration in the crime genre, fans were excited to find out that Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are teaming up once again for The Irishman. Considering the fact that the last they collaborated for a feature-length movie was Casino in 1995, it was major Hollywood news.
Since the majority of the scenes take place in the 1960s and the 1970s, De Niro had to be digitally de-aged. In fact, most of the movie’s budget was spent on special effects involving digital de-aging. The actor was not the only one as so were his counterparts.
7. Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Apart from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci was also digitally de-aged in The Irishman. The actor had voluntarily retired from acting but was requested by director Martin Scorsese to return for the movie. In fact, Pesci was offered the role of Russell Bufalino fifty times but he declined because he did not want to act in a gangster movie again.
After multiple attempts, Pesci finally agreed. Similar to De Niro, the actor was digitally de-aged for the scenes that took place in the 1960s and the 1970s. It was a memorable comeback to Hollywood as Pesci was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
6. Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Al Pacino is best known for acting in crime movies whereas Martin Scorsese is best known for directing crime movies. As shocking as it may sound, the two never collaborated even once in their career that spans multiple decades. That all changed when they agreed to work on The Irishman.
Similar to his co-stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, Pacino was de-aged for his role of Jimmy Hoffa. The credit for de-aging the three actors goes to visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman. Although the movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, it lost to 1971.
5. Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)
The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was fascinating in terms of showcasing the origin of Captain Jack Sparrow. During a flashback scene, the iconic pirate faces Spanish Royal Navy officer Armando Salazar and the latter is tricked into sailing towards the Devil’s Triangle.
The thrilling scene features a very young Johnny Depp. As convincing as it looks, it was accomplished through CGI and the actor resembled his youthful looks in his early projects such as 21 Jump Street and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Whereas Anthony De La Torre served as the body double for the particular scene.
4. Will Smith (Gemini Man)
Despite his poor selection of movie roles as of late, Will Smith’s star power is still intact. Among his string of flops, the sci-fi action movie Gemini Man still stands out due to the actor fighting his clone who is a younger version of himself.
While some critics praised the visual effects that de-aged Smith, there was not a shortage of those who thought otherwise. While the opinion on CGI was divided, critics agreed that the script was unimpressive. Not so surprisingly, Gemini Man was a box office bomb and caused a loss of $111 million to Paramount Pictures.
3. Jennifer Connelly (American Pastoral)
For her role of former beauty queen Dawn Dwyer Levov, Jennifer Connelly was de-aged by 25 years so she could look just like her appearance in the 1991 superhero flick The Rocketeer. It was done by prominent special effects company Lola VFX.
In order to digitally de-age the Connelly, her chin, jawline, and cheeks were made to appear more round instead of smoothing out wrinkles as traditionally done in movies. If we’re being honest, the actress has certainly aged quite gracefully.
2. Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Once again, Lola VFX worked wonders for the Marvel Cinematic Universe by stepping forward to execute the convincing special effects required to digitally de-age Michael Douglas in Ant-Man. The actor portrayed entomologist Hank Pym and was de-aged 25 years for a notable flashback scene.
On a related note, Lola VFX has not only de-age actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has also made Chris Evans look scrawny in Captain America: The First Avenger and Hayley Atwell look old in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator Salvation)
Technically, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was not involved in the shooting of Terminator Salvation since he was serving as the Governor of California at the time but he granted Warner Bros. the permission to use his likeness.
In the movie, Austrian bodybuilder Roland Kickinger portrays T-800 whereas Schwarzenegger’s face from the first installment of the Terminator franchise is superimposed on him. Although Schwarzenegger does not technically appear in the movie, he still makes the list since CGI was used to present a younger version of him.
Did we miss any noteworthy actors who were digitally de-aged in movies on our list? Let us know in the comments below!