The Groundbreaking Technology Used to Make Robert De Niro Look Younger in 'The Irishman'

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Groundbreaking new technology is helping iconic actors shed years off their faces and, in some cases, decades off their faces. 

In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming epic for Netflix, “The Irishman,” stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci are aged both backward and forward, appearing as fresh-faced lads and senior citizens.

The film’s state-of-the-art technology blew up the project’s budget, making it the most expensive film the iconic auteur has helmed, as well as the most pricey flick Netflix has produced to date. 

On “The Tonight Show," 76-year-old De Niro joked, “I’m happy, maybe it will extend my career another 30 years.” 

Scorsese, known for his vast love of cinema, told A24’s podcast “A Bigger Canvas,” that he was worried how the de-aging might look in his film. 

“Why I’m concerned, we’re all concerned is that we’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said. “When we put them all together, it cuts back and forth….Now, it’s real. Now, I’m seeing it. Now, certain shots need more work on the eyes, need more work on why these exactly the same eyes from the plate shot, but the wrinkles and things have changed. Does it change the eyes at all? If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?”

“The Irishman” isn’t 2019’s only big film with leads who are de-aged, as Will Smith also erased decades in the movie “Gemini Man.”

For Smith's younger version of himself, the special effects went a step further. The producers and director Ang Lee looked at Smith from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and movies like “Men in Black” and “Bad Boys” to help make a younger 3D model.

“We took Will Smith and put in a full CGI creature, like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park,” visual-effects supervisor Guy Williams told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s not an augmentation, it’s a complete replacement.”

These actors are not the first to be part of the younger look craze, as Samuel L. Jackson was de-aged for parts of this year’s “Captain Marvel” and Carrie Fisher was too in 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” 

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