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Is Avatar the End of Actors?

Avatar Cover
Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of seeing James Cameron’s visually stunning immersive
cinematic experience ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’…twice. Now, I can go on and on about how
Cameron has done it again, another fantastic sequel that has raised the bar on what film goers
expect in terms of modern computer generated graphics as well as extensive worldbuilding.
However, upon my second viewing of Avatar 2, I was less enamored by the beauty of Pandora,
the struggle of the Na’vi or the ongoing Sully family drama, but rather the question of, with a
technological advancement this large, how much longer are human actors truly needed in film
and entertainment?

The entertainment industry is an ever growing, ever adapting medium. For hundreds of years
theater and opera were the main sources of extravagant storytelling to large audiences. Film
has now replaced traditional theater in popularity and with each year, film tries to outdo itself.
Silent films become talkies, black and white films become color, 2-D becomes 3-D, etc. However
the idea that actor’s themselves may no longer be needed to tell these stories is something that
Avatar 2 may have pushed society ahead more quickly.

Also Read: Avatar: The Way of Water – An Immersive, Beautiful Vision

Avatar 2: underwater shoot
Avatar 2: underwater filming

Looking back to the now seemingly quaint decade of the 1990s, the world was introduced to the
first fully computer animated feature film, Toy Story (1995). Jumping ahead to 2004, we have
the nightmare inducing, uncanny valley Polar Express. By 2008, Benjamin Button and in 2010,
Tron Legacy had started to age and deage real actors, Brad Pitt and Jeff Bridges. In 2016
Rogue One a Star Wars Story had fully recreated late actor Peter Cushing. Now, I’m not
insinuating that Avatar 2 has computer graphics so indistinguishable from our reality that we are
already there technology wise, but looking back to how far we have come in the last 27 years, I
do believe it is only a matter of time until human actors can be fully replaced by computer
imaging as well.
Avatar: The Way of water (2022)
Avatar: The Way of water (2022)

As much as it pains me to say it, show business is a business. I would love to believe that all
films and TV shows are made solely with passion and for art’s sake, but it’s simply not true.
Studios are always chasing that next hot director or actor to increase the views on their product
to ultimately make profits. Applying this profit seeking mentality, imagine a world where a
production studio can hyper select aspects of a variety of actors or people to create the exact
character they want in their films. Morgan Freeman’s voice, with the face of Ryan Gosling, the
hair of Brad Pitt, the attitude of Keanu Reeves, the physique of The Rock, to create the ultimate
character. This has already started happening in the modeling industry with fully CGI models
like “Lil Miquela” and “Shudu”, who have appeared in actual modeling campaigns for Calvin
Klein and Balmain….and are not real people. Not to mention the drastic improvements in
deepfake technology in recent years.
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Avatar: The Way of Water shooting

Financially speaking it makes sense to not pay an actor millions of dollars to act in a production,
when a computer can generate one indistinguishably for a fraction of the cost. Injuries on set
and dangerous filming situations become a thing of the past. This also will eliminate any
conflicts an actor may have in their personal lives, I.E. Ezra Miller and the current The Flash
debacle.
I don’t think these fully computer generated films will happen overnight, but it is clearly already
occurring in smaller manageable stages. Based on the upward technological advancements of
the past 3 decades, and seeing how far film has come with features like Avatar 2,it doesn’t
seem to be outside the realm of possibilities that in the near future, AI and completely computer
generated actors will become a reality.
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Written by Alec Lawless

Alec Lawless is a Los Angeles based Voice over actor and podcast host. He is an avid horror film fan, Star Wars fanatic, South Park aficionado, and David Lynch connoisseur. He hosts the weekly podcast Wheel of Horror, which covers everything horror related, with new episodes released every Monday and Friday, wherever you get podcasts. You can hear Alec (and shoot at him) as the Grunts in Halo Infinite, the voice of Dani in the Amazon's series "Prisma", and as Martin in the Netflix series "The Girl in The Mirror". Alec is a lifelong vegetarian, who likes Boston Terriers (Even Though he doesn't have one), and gaming!