Known for his work as Forrest Gump, Toy Story’s Woody and countless other iconic characters, the real human version of Tom Hanks is beloved worldwide. However, the actor has been recreated by AI to promote products he never consented to.
In a post on his Instagram page, human Tom Hanks warned his fanbase to avoid recent adverts involving an AI Tom Hanks. The actor explained that he has not consented to the AI clone of his likeness and voice, and fans shouldn’t engage with it.
“BEWARE!!” The actor told fans. “There's a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it."
As a SAG-AFTRA member, Tom Hanks has been fighting the use of AI in Hollywood productions, attempting to protect actors from the technology. While the Writers Guild of America has successfully protected its writers from AI like ChatGPT, the actor’s guild has yet to reach a deal to protect its members from deepfake technology.
Actors have successfully had their likeness replicated via deepfake technology with their consent. For example, Die Hard actor Bruce Willis licensed his face to a Russian telecommunications company just prior to his retirement. The actor’s likeness may be used again in the future as he permanently retires from acting.
Additionally, iconic Batman actor Val Kilmer uses a voice deepfake for documentaries and other projects. After the actor lost his voice due to throat cancer, Kilmer has utilized AI as a way to continue starring in upcoming projects.
Of course, actors such as Mark Hamill has been deepfaked into new seasons of The Mandalorian, and James Earl Jones’ voice has been turned into AI for future Star Wars productions. The latter made its debut in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
However, Tom Hanks has been replicated with artificial intelligence without his consent for an advert he has not signed off on. Instead, a dental company — which could be a scam — has stolen the actors’ face and voice to promote its own product.
Hanks has frequently fought against the ongoing advancement of AI and how the technology will affect actors and disinformation. In a recent episode of Adam Buxton’s podcast, Hanks said:
“We saw this coming. We saw that there was going to be this ability to take zeros and ones inside a computer and turn it into a face and a character. Now that has only grown a billionfold since then, and we see it everywhere. There [are] discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies, and all of the legal firms to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice – and everybody else’s – being our intellectual property.”
“I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, and that’s it, but performances can go on and on and on and on,” the actor continued. “And outside of the understanding that it’s been done with AI or deepfake, there’ll be nothing to tell you that it’s not me and me alone. And it’s going to have some degree of lifelike quality. That’s certainly an artistic challenge, but it’s also a legal one.”
Despite calls against AI, Hollywood studios have pitched wholly generated movies trained on 100 years of film, all the while extras actors are being paid pennies for their likeness to be used in films forever.
With actors like Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves and myriad voice actors speaking out against artificial intelligence, some form of regulation must be put in place. But will studios actually buckle to the demands?