‘Longlegs’ star Nicolas Cage is terrified about AI’s influence on Hollywood: ‘They’re just going to steal my body and do whatever they want with it’



Since the advent of mainstream use of artificial intelligence, people have been worried about how the nascent technology could affect their jobs—or make them lose their living altogether. But actors and other celebrities have a different concern: that the use of AI could steal their image, likeness, and personality. 

Nicolas Cage, the 60-year-old film star who starred in “National Treasure,” “Face/Off,” and the upcoming highly anticipated horror film “Longlegs,” is especially worried about AI’s lasting impact on Hollywood and acting—even beyond his lifetime.

During a recent interview with The New Yorker, Cage had to slip out to get a digital scan done for a show he’s working on for production purposes.

“They have to put me in a computer and match my eye color and change—I don’t know. They’re just going to steal my body and do whatever they want with it via digital AI,” Cage said. “I’m terrified of [AI]. I’ve been very vocal about it.”

AI’s influence on Hollywood

Cage isn’t the only actor who’s spoken out against the use of AI in film production.

Last October, “Forrest Gump” star Tom Hanks warned his fans that an ad for a dental plan used his image and voice without his permission and was created using AI. 

“BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me,” Hanks wrote over a screenshot of the computer-generated image of himself from the video on Instagram. “I have nothing to do with it.”

The late Robin Williams’ voice has also been used for various purposes, which his daughter Zelda Williams has called “disturbing.”

Scarlett Johansson’s voice was also allegedly stolen for use as an AI personal assistant voice—although OpenAI denied the accusation.

And British actor and author Stephen Fry—who famously narrated the “Harry Potter” audiobook series—has also opened up about his experience with having his identity digitally cloned without his permission. 

AI “could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm Parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission,” Fry, told an audience at the CogX Festival in London last September. “And this was done without my knowledge.”

The list of unauthorized use of actors’ voices and images goes on.

It was one of the strongholds behind the 118-day labor strike by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which ended last November.

Now, movie studios are required to get permission from actors to use their images in AI-generated materials and pay performers whenever their digital doubles appear on screen, under the new labor agreement. 

But actors, including Cage, still have their doubts about the use of AI in film production—and beyond. 

Cage said in his New Yorker interview: “And it makes me wonder, you know, where will the truth of the artists end up? Is it going to be replaced? Is it going to be transmogrified? Where’s the heartbeat going to be?”

The long-term effects of AI in Hollywood

The fear of replacement has also been particularly strong among voice actors, who could face a major reckoning as AI-generated voices become more sophisticated.

These synthetic voices save studios time and money without having to hire professional voice actors for production, but they’re bad news for workers.

Indeed, AI stands to adversely affect nearly 204,000 Hollywood jobs during the next three years, according to a January CVL Economics report based on a survey of 300 entertainment industry leaders. 

Three-fourths of respondents said AI could eliminate, reduce, or consolidate jobs at their company. The most endangered roles are sound engineers, voice actors, concept artists, and other entry-level workers.

Visual effect and post-production work are also vulnerable to AI.

“The entertainment industries are in a period of significant uncertainty, where the nature of work is rapidly—and in many cases, profoundly—changing at an unprecedented rate,” according to the report.

“Creative industry leaders are largely embracing GenAI technology, and most recognize that operational benefits in the future will come at a cost to many creative workers.”

Not only do actors and other entertainment workers stand to live with the effects of AI—but die with them, too.

“I mean what are you going to do with my body and my face when I’m dead?” Cage questioned. “I don’t want you to do anything with it.”

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