Chris Evans, Elijah Wood and More Criticize James Dean CGI Casting: "This Shouldn't Be a Thing"

Zelda Williams, whose late father Robin Williams has restricted exploitation of his image, spoke out on the casting news on Twitter: "Publicity stunt or not, this is puppeteering the dead for their 'clout' alone and it sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance."

James Dean has been cast in a Vietnam War-era action-drama 64 years after his death, creating a social media uproar with those in the industry finding the casting "shameful" and setting "an awful precedent" for the future of film and visual effects. 

Magic City Films announced Wednesday that the late Rebel Without a Cause star, who died in a car crash in 1955 at the age of 24, would take the secondary lead role in their upcoming film Finding Jack

The movie, adapted by Mari Sova from Gareth Crocker’s novel, focuses on the abandonment of more than 10,000 military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War. Dean, who died just before the start of the war, would be portraying a character named Rogan.

Despite directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh obtaining the rights to use the actor's image from his family, reactions to the casting have been overwhelmingly negative.

"I have talked to friends about this for YEARS and no one ever believed me that the industry would stoop this low once tech got better," tweeted Zelda Williams, whose late father Robin Williams restricted exploitation of his image for 25 years following his death. "Publicity stunt or not, this is puppeteering the dead for their 'clout' alone and it sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance."

"This is awful," Knives Out star Chris Evans wrote on Twitter. "Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes. The complete lack of understanding here is shameful."

Elijah Wood echoed Evans' criticism, tweeting, "NOPE. this shouldn't be a thing." 

Michelle Buchman, who runs social media for Star Wars, was one of several on social media who blasted the notion an actor who looked like James Dean could not be found and cast. 

"There is literally a James Dean Festival held every year in Indiana where they have a look-alike contest so like if you really needed someone it's not that hard to find them," posted Buchman, referring to Fairmount, Indiana's annual festival dedicated to the late actor. 

Ernst told The Hollywood Reporter that his team had "searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan" until deciding that Dean could portray the "extreme complex character arcs" of the role. 

Julie Ann Emery (Preacher) highlighted the concern over how the role would be credited, given another actor will voice Dean's role and his performance will be constructed via "full body" CGI using actual footage and photos.

"That's not James Dean. It's his face on a motion capture performance and an 'anonymous' actor providing voice pattern and choices," the actress wrote on Twitter. "I'd like to know how it will be credited. How the real actors will be paid. And how little this team understands the acting craft."

Devon Sawa, who auditioned for another role in Finding Jack, also commented on the casting of a deceased actor, tweeting, "They couldn't give this role to an actual human?" 

Dean starred in three movies, 1955's Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden and 1956's Giant, receiving best acting Oscar nominations for the latter two. He died before he could finish filming Giant

Preproduction on Finding Jack is set to begin Nov. 17, with a goal for a worldwide release on Veterans' Day 2020. 

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Magic City Films for comment.