Keanu Reeves fears that deepfake technology can take the agency out of acting, and replace art entirely.
Keanu Reeves is a man of many talents, and those talents have led to him having one strict rule: his performances are not to be digitally altered. Reeves has openly bashed deepfake technology, and for good reason, as it appears the technology might one day replace the best aspects of being an actor. According to Reeves, “What’s frustrating about that is you lose your agency when you give a performance in a film… you know you’re going to be edited, but you’re participating in that…if you go into deepfake land, it has none of your points of view.”
Keanu Reeves also stated that there is a great fear of this new technology essentially taking away the need for the performer. He added, “The people who are paying you for your art would rather not pay you.” We would argue that is most businesses, as they would certainly want to get your skills for free, but deepfake technology can essentially steal art without asking.
To be honest, Keanu Reeves is afraid of deepfake technology for a good reason, as it is taking humanity out of acting. While actors are tasked with portraying the life of a character, they can bring their own personal experiences into said character. We aren’t saying that Reeves has gone on a killing rampage like in the John Wick series, but the feelings of loss that the character deals with are something that Reeves and most of the world have felt at one point in their lives.
Deepfake and AI can replace actors, but technology cannot replace the demeanor or mannerisms in which actors flourish. A face implanted on a body may be able to mimic some sort of similar facial expressions, but the body language will certainly not be there. Keanu Reeves also recounted a time in the 1990s, when the production of a movie he was in added a tear to his face, though he never cried in the scene.
That moment was all it took for Keanu Reeves to add to his contract that his performance is never to be digitally altered. It is kind of bizarre that Reeves saw the writing on the wall some 20 or 30 years ago, and that deepfake technology is now running rampant in media spaces. Thankfully, he has prepared himself contractually to not allow this technology to ruin his own art.
Keanu Reeves is set to return to John Wick 4, as the titular and fan-favorite anti-hero. Although the man is getting up in age, he is still performing many of his stunts in the movies. We would certainly like to see deepfake technology try and mimic Reeves’ gunplay in those movies.
Keanu Reeves might be one of the only stars that currently ensures there is no usage of his likeness digitally, though there are others who have seemingly welcomed in deepfake. Bruce Willis was digitally placed in a commercial for a phone company ad in Russia, which began a huge controversy, resulting in rumors that Willis had sold his likeness rights. However, Deepcake informed the world that Willis owned his deepfake rights, which could not be sold, and that all future work would be dependent on his approval.
Though there are surely contract obligations that Deepcake has to follow, we might approach a point where loopholes can be placed to allow AI technology to replace the actor without asking first. This is just speculation, of course, but it’s something that Keanu Reeves rightfully fears right now. We certainly have to agree with his fears and we hope that technology isn’t aiming to take actors completely out of acting.