Deepfake A.I. puts a young Harrison Ford into ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

One of the recurring criticisms of Solo: A Star Wars Story often involves the difficulty of accepting anyone other than original Han Solo actor Harrison Ford in the film’s title role. Imagining a young Ford replacing Solo star Alden Ehrenreich is a little easier now, though, thanks to some advanced image-editing and synthesis techniques.

A YouTube user called Derpfakes has created a brief montage of scenes from Solo featuring Ford’s face superimposed over Ehrenreich’s. This alteration was made possible via the controversial, artificial-intelligence-driven image synthesis technique known as Deepfake. The video combines elements of Ford’s performances from early projects with Ehrenreich’s facial performance in Solo to offer up an eerie peek at what might have been (if Solo was made about 30 years earlier, that is).

“Using footage and stills of a pre-1977 Harrison Ford, I tried to make the most convincing young Solo I could,” reads the description of the video.

Like most videos created using the Deepfake technique, there are moments when the video is a bit jarring due to a flawed synthesis of the two performances, but when it does work, the result is impressive. In its best moments, the video lets Ford’s trademark smirk and charisma show through, even when layered on another actor’s performance. The final scene in the video — in which Han approaches Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) in a dark gambling den — is almost scary in how well it merges Ford’s features with those of Ehrenreich and his body.

The combination of Ehrenreich’s voice and Ford’s facial features might be the biggest problem with the video, as the two elements simply don’t blend all that well on the screen.

It’s an entertaining video, and although the film’s naysayers have found no shortage of reasons to criticize Ehrenreich’s performance, the Deepfake video could also be seen as a testament to how well he channeled Ford’s portrayal of the character.

The video also opens the door to some scary possibilities when it comes to films that explore early points in a franchise timeline, given Hollywood’s growing affinity for bringing deceased actors back to the screen or de-aging veteran actors.


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