VFX Contenders: 'Gemini Man' Team Details Creation of a Fully Digital Will Smith

"If anything isn't right, it falls apart," says Weta VFX supervisor Guy Williams in a new episode of THR's 'Behind the Screen.'
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films
'Gemini Man'

A fully digital human has long been considered among the most difficult of VFX challenges, and the VFX pros that created a fully CG Will Smith featured in Ang Lee’s thriller Gemini Man detail their work in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter podcast Behind the Screen.

Featured are two-time Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofter, who reteamed with Lee after Life of Pi and the creation of its famous CG tiger; and three-time Oscar-nominated VFX supervisor Guy Williams from Weta, Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based VFX house that did the work on the film. 

In Gemini Man, Smith stars as Henry, an elite assassin who is hunted by a clone of his younger self. As a result, the team had to create a 23-year-old Smith ("Junior") in the digital realm to act alongside current-day Smith ("Henry").

The work on the digital Smith began with gathering photos of the actor at a younger age. In arriving at the look, Williams said detailed research involved how skin moves and pores behave and capturing all of the emotion and nuance of the performance: "If anything isn't right, it falls apart."

There were various techniques used to complete the pic. For scenes during which Smith's Henry and Junior appear together, Smith performed on set as Henry, with a reference actor as Junior. Then he performed Junior's role on a mocap stage, with a reference actor playing Henry.

Hosted by THR tech editor Carolyn Giardina, Behind the Screen features interviews with directors, cinematographers, editors and other artists behind the making of motion pictures and series.

Hear it all below on Behind the Screen — and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an exciting episode.