The Matrix and John Wick actor Keanu Reeves has spoken out against the use of AI deepfakes in the entertainment industry. After decades of acting, Reeves is terrified of digital alterations ruining performances.
In an interview with Variety, the Bill and Ted actor explained that his contracts restrict digital altering of his performance. While actors like Harrison Ford, Samual Jackson and more have been de-aged in movies such as Indiana Jones and Captain Marvel, Reeves is entirely against the technology.
Reeves explained that he’s been unnerved by digital additions ever since the 1990s. “In the early 2000s, or it might have been the ’90s, I had a performance changed,” he said. “They added a tear to my face, and I was just like, ‘Huh?!’ It was like, I don’t even have to be here.”
Keanu Reeves explained that the addition of deepfakes in Hollywood is making performances mean nothing. In the past, aging actors was done with prosthetics — for example, 46-year-old Christopher Lloyd playing Doc Brown in Back to the Future. However, it’s now done by completely altering a performance with visual effects.
“What’s frustrating about that is you lose your agency,” the actor explained. “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. That’s scary. It’s going to be interesting to see how humans deal with these technologies. They’re having such cultural, sociological impacts, and the species is being studied. There’s so much ‘data’ on behaviors now.”
The actor continued to explain that deepfakes are not the only issue with AI. Alongside face replacements, artificial intelligence has been used to completely clone actors and others’ voices. Just recently, Disney revealed an AI-powered clone of its deceased founder Walt Disney complete with new lines said in his voice. Furthermore, voice actors in video games and animation have explained that low-budget series are already looking into AI performances.
“People are growing up with these tools: We’re listening to music already that’s made by AI in the style of Nirvana, there’s NFT digital art. It’s cool, like, Look what the cute machines can make! But there’s a corporatocracy behind it that’s looking to control those things,” Reeves said. “Culturally, socially, we’re gonna be confronted by the value of real, or the non-value. And then what’s going to be pushed on us? What’s going to be presented to us?”
Keanu Reeves explained that the adoption of AI by companies isn’t about making better products. Instead, it’s about “control and manipulation”. How will companies own the voice and likeness of an individual? And how will they exploit it for profit?