Rebel Without a Cause actor James Dean, who died in 1955, suddenly appears in a film using a new technology. And he's not the only one: actor Peter Cushing already preceded him and even our own André Hazes was on stage last year as a hologram. But is that possible?

More than sixty years after his death, he is again the hero of the film. The Hollywood Reporter reported in early November that James Dean is being brought back to life using the computer-generated Imagery (CGI) technology. In Finding Jack , a film about thousands of dogs from the army that were abandoned after the Vietnam War, he plays one of the main roles.

It is not the first time that deceased celebrities are brought back to life using new technologies. The deceased actor Cushing, for example, appeared in the Star Wars film Rogue One using CGI. And a hologram by Michael Jackson performed at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014.

These technologies are increasingly gaining a foothold in the Netherlands. Five years ago the deceased Hazes acted as a hologram with his son. "It is really like being on stage with my father. He is going to look even more. It is almost scary," Hazes Junior told

The hologram of André Hazes during Holland Zingt Hazes in Ziggo Dome. (Photo: Bruno Press)

The technology is there, but the budget is missing

We have not yet seen a deceased Dutch actor in a film. Although it is possible, says Ron Adriaanse. Adriaanse is head of CGI at the creative production house Lukkien. The Dutch company makes among others the talking cats of Minoes , for which they also used CGI.

"Practically speaking, it could be in the Netherlands. The technology is there, but the biggest problem is budget," says Adriaanse. "To make a person in CGI you need a lot of reference material. You prefer to make a 3D scan, but you can't do that anymore for deceased people. In that case, a 3D artist would have to completely recreate the actor."

Making this 3D model is actually the easy part. "That is 90 percent of the end result, but takes 10 percent of the time," said Adriaanse. "The final touches cost the majority of the work. Making a 3D model is easy, but then you have an empty shell of a person. Getting life in the eye is the most difficult and also the biggest expense."

Adriaanse therefore does not expect that in the short term we will again see deceased actors on the silver screen in the Netherlands, but "if the budget is there, we will keep our recommendation".

"If your nude is portrayed, you can stop it"

So we have the technology - although we cannot afford it yet - but what about the legal perspective? Can you just use someone's face in a movie?

Portrait rights apply in the Netherlands. If you are on a photo, drawing or illustration and you do not want that, you can sometimes rely on it. That depends on whether you have a 'reasonable interest' to prohibit this use of your face.

"In the past, 'reasonable interest' meant 'moral interest'. So if your nude was depicted somewhere, you could stop it," explains lawyer Diederik Donk of law firm The Legal Group. Donk specializes in intellectual property law, which includes portrait rights. "At one point, the judge ruled that a commercial interest was also seen as a reasonable interest." In other words: if your head is suddenly used in a TV commercial without being paid, you can go to court with it. "

James Dean in the movie Giant, which appeared a year after his death. (Photo: Bruno Press)

Johan Cruijff as a book cover

If you die, this portrait right will be transferred to your relatives. They can then rely on portrait rights on your behalf. Johan Cruijff's immediate family did the same last year.

A photo of Cruijff was used on the front of the book Cruijff! The lean years 1973-1981 . The relatives of the football player wanted to prohibit the use of Cruijff's portrait on the book and therefore went to court.

The judge acknowledged that the use of Cruijff's portrait had a 'shopping-stimulating' ability, but found this commercial interest not strong enough to prohibit the publication. And because the publisher had offered the family compensation, they could not object to the use of the portrait.

Could a deceased Dutch actor then simply be used in a film? "That is possible, provided that the surviving relatives receive compensation," says lawyer Donk. "In the case of a film it becomes very difficult for the relatives to stop using his portrait. The commercial interest is not strong enough for that. But if his head is also used as promotional material, so commercially, then the judge will probably prohibit that. "

In addition, the reputation of the deceased actor in the film must not be damaged. Donk: "If he were in a porn movie, for example, you as a survivor can stop the publication."


Watch the Rebel Without A Cause trailer with James Dean