'Gemini Man': How They Made Will Smith Fight Himself in New Movie

Gemini Man is the new film seemingly based on the principle that the only thing better than one Will Smith is two Will Smiths, as the Men in Black actor fights what seems to be a "de-aged" version of himself. Many have assumed that to do this, he used body doubles and split screen filming, with the second Will Smith digitally altered to appear younger, as seen in recent films like Captain Marvel and the upcoming The Irishman.

In the lead-up to the release of Gemini Man, however, director Ang Lee and star Will Smith has revealed how Junior, the film's younger version of Will Smith, was really created.

In reality, even when we think we are seeing two Will Smiths in the film, we are only seeing one. As the actor revealed at a Paramount event reported on by Inverse: "It's not de-aging...The young character is not me. That is a 100 percent digitally created character. They didn't take my image and stretch some of the lines. It's a completely CGI character the same way The Lion King is CGI. They're using my performance to create the CGI elements. The skin is CGI. That's not my skin."

To achieve a totally seamless young CGI version of the 51-year-old actor, Lee worked with visual effects company Weta Digital. According to CinemaBlend, the director said during a round table discussion: "You have to invent a new way to do it. I think Junior being a CG character is a requirement with this, it's a whole package. We do the whole body, not just the face. We go into details probably nobody [has before] with the layers."

gemini man deaging
"Gemini Man" features a full CGI version of Will Smith (right) rather than using de-aging technology. Paramount Pictures

Lee added that his reason for doing this was: "Even in 60 frames per second, and not 120 at 2K, it's a different mindset than when you watch a regular movie... I think because of that, it made me want to [create Junior], because you can't put on makeup, erase wrinkles, and do a different hairstyle, and act up and call it younger, or cast Will Smith's son to play him and call that a clone. With this media, it won't allow that."

This extremely high frame rate and resolution meant that traditional make-up was also not an option, as it was likely to show up on screen. Instead, the VFX company made a younger Will Smith based on the actor's appearance around the time of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and his early films like Bad Boys.

According to Hollywood Reporter, Smith joked about this: "I got to see all the tragedies I committed in entertainment." Not only that, but the actor said he then had to copy his earlier, less nuanced performances, with Lee saying of his earlier work: "That's not good. I need you to do that."

Gemini Man is in cinemas now.