Bruce Willis becomes first Hollywood actor to sell image rights to artificial intelligence company

AI technology was used to place Bruce Willis' digitally created head onto a body double for a Russian phone advert. Credit: TIMEREK RU

Die Hard actor Bruce Willis has become the first Hollywood star to sell his image rights to a technology company, which specialises in creating movies through artificial intelligence (AI).

The deal means the firm, Deepcake, can now use both his moving and talking image within films and TV productions.

It comes after the 67-year-old announced his retirement from acting in March, after being diagnosed with aphasia, which affects a person's speech and language.

Deepcake has targeted becoming the world's largest talent agency, bringing actors both living and dead back to the big screen. It's CEO Maria Chmir has said discussions are underway to strike similar deals with film studios and the estates of dead stars.

She said: "We create digital twins of celebrities and the actual production process doesn’t require the physical presence of a celebrity on stage.

"It means comics like Charlie Chaplin and Kevin Hart can interact in one frame now."

The company has already begun making use of Willis' image rights on its website, attaching his face and voice to several adverts.

Willis had previously starred in a Russian phone advert where his digitally created head was placed onto a body double.

AI technology was explored within the TV documentary, Tech To The Future, which looked at how dead actors and actresses could be brought back to life.

Sandro Monetti, the documentary's director, said AI technology could "upend" the film inudstry, adding "Deepcake wants a large slice of the Hollywood money pie".

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Should their respective image rights be acquired it means other late Hollywood stars, such as Marilyn Monroe, could make a return to film; busy stars could take part in multiple projects at the same time or actors could extend their careers for many years.

In the past, AI technology has been used to bring a number of deceased performers back to life on the big screen.

Paul Walker, for example, who starred in the Fast and Furious film franchise died in a car crash, while filming the seventh installment of the series. But with the power of AI technology Walker was able to make a dignified exit at the end of the film.

James Dean and Audrey Hepburn are among other famous names who have featured in productions after their deaths thanks to the modern technology.