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Robert de Niro says rise of CGI means career could be 'extended another 30 years'

Jessica Carpani
Robert de Niro says rise of CGI means career could be 'extended another 30 years' - AFP

Robert De Niro has said that the rise in CGI means his career could be extended by thirty years. 

The 76-year old was speaking at the London Film Festival on Sunday to promote The Irishman, where special effects are used to digitally de-age the actors. 

De Niro himself plays the title role of truck driver turned hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, from being in his twenties all the way through to his eighties. 

When asked about how he felt when he first saw a digitally enhanced younger version of himself beamed on the screen, De Niro said: “I always joke that my career will be extended another 30 years.” 

But The Godfather great was skeptical about how the technology might evolve and said that it had made him “think about copyright” and who inherits “likeness” after “we’re all long gone”. 

He said: “They even have that now in some ways, using famous actors from years ago in commercials and they represent what that product is. 

He continued: "I am just happy we are at the beginning stages of it being explored and God knows where we will go and what excited me about it was Pablo (Helman, the visual effects supervisor) was doing this thing and wanted to make it state of the art, the best it could be."

Other actors have already wised up to the potential for their posthumous screen debuts with actor and comedian Robin Williams signing a deed to prevent his image being used for at least 25 years after his death. 

In 2013, a digital recreation of Audrey Hepburn was used for a Galaxy chocolate. Paul Walker, who was killed in a car crash in 2013 while halfway through filming Furious 7, finished his final scenes with the help of CGI and his two brothers as stand-ins. 

But not all estates are as enamoured by the idea, with Bruce Lee’s estate seeking legal action in 2015 to stop a CG version of actor from appearing in Ip Man 3, 42 years after his death. 

Martin Scorsese, who directed the film, said: "If we made the film earlier they could have played younger but at a certain point we missed that and then they said 'Use younger actors' and I said 'What's the point of that?'

"CGI is really an evolution of make-up, you accept certain norms in make-up, you know he's not that old, she's not that young, you accept the illusion.” 

Speaking at the press conference Al Pacino, who plays union boss Jimmy Hoffa, said: “In the old days they took an actor, that we all knew and loved, and put grey hair on him and say ‘oh, he got older’ but you’d accept it because it was makeup.” 

He added that he was “more concerned” with telling a story and that “it doesn’t matter what you look like".