CS saw 120FPS Gemini Man footage with Will Smith!
Paramount Pictures invited ComingSoon.net to the Paramount lot in Los Angeles to be among the first audience in the world to see extended Gemini Man footage, and in eye-popping 120 frames-per-second 3D! Director Ang Lee, Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and superstar Will Smith were all on hand to discuss their process in bringing this extraordinary original sci-fi story to life. Check out our rundown of the footage and quotes from the Smith and the filmmakers below!
“The familiarity we have with the human face is the most of all the things we recognize,” said Lee in his introduction. “For Will Smith, one of the biggest movies stars, to be watched and examined this way takes a lot of courage and heart.”
That was Lee just before the three scenes unspooled, and it was no wonder he was nervous. Not only is he recreating the younger look of one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood using cutting edge CGI technology, he’s screening it at an unforgiving 120 FPS frame rate that makes everything look ten-times more realistic than typical 24FPS.
The first sequence screened was shot in Cartagena, Colombia and involves the older assassin Henry Brogen (Smith) being pursued by his younger clone Junior (also Smith via CGI performance capture developed by WETA Digital). It starts with Henry telling a sleeping Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) that there’s a sniper on the roof and he’s going to distract him so she and Baron (Benedict Wong) can get away. “You’re a shitty houseguest, you know that?” says Baron. Smith goes outside and spies Junior in a reflection in a puddle and shoots through his own shirt to draw the fire of the shooter. At one point Henry has Junior in his sights for a killshot but then notices that he looks EXACTLY like him, but younger. Instead of killing him, Henry leads Junior into a villa where a firefight ensues. It should be noted that the scene was extremely vivid in 120 FPS, and took a few minutes to adjust to the window-like realism and lack of motion blur. Smith tells Junior to stop and that he doesn’t want to shoot him, but then Junior asks, “Do you mind if I shoot you.” “I could have killed you on the roof,” replies Henry. “Maybe you should have,” says Junior. Henry then throws a grenade at him but Junior shoots it away before it explodes.
The second scene picks up with Junior having taken Danny hostage in an underground catacomb full of human skulls and bones. Junior sets up a tripwire then knocks out all the lights, then puts on a mask with night vision. He zip-ties her hands, and explains that Henry has cracked and killed eight operatives. Danny explains that those eight ops were sent by Gemini to kill Henry and her. Junior puts tape over her mouth and then hears the tripwire explosion and runs toward it, but Henry knocks him down and takes his weapons. The two stare at each other with befuddlement. Henry unties Danny, who then lights a flare. “For the record, I do not want to kill you, but I will if I have to,” Henry tells Junior. He then goes on a long speech where he tells him about his boss Varris, and then tells Junior intimate details about himself, including that he hates cilantro, loves puzzles and chess, suffers from insomnia, and the only time he feels happy is when he’s about to squeeze a trigger. He explains that 25 years ago Varris took his blood then cloned him. What’s remarkable about this scene is it’s just the older Smith in the background and then the younger CGI Smith in a tight closeup in the foreground, so you can see every pore of this WETA creation, and it stands up to serious scrutiny. “What are you, 23? Still a virgin, right? Dying to be in a relationship and connect but terrified to let anyone near you because what if somebody actually saw who you are? How could they love you?” He and Junior then get into a major scrap in the catacombs, and because Junior is fully CGI the animators were able to enhance the hits between the two to make it look like they’re really making contact during the fight. And what a fight. It goes on for several minutes with the two grappling for their lives, and Smith telling Danny not to shoot him. They both wind up falling down a shaft and into some water, and that’s when the scene ends.
The third scene involves bad guy Clayton “Clay” Varris (Clive Owen) in a dramatic confrontation with Junior, asking him why it’s so hard for him to kill this man. Junior remembers shooting turkeys at a park with Varris, who he refers to as his father. “I always believed you’d be happier not knowing,” meaning when he’s a clone. Junior says the only time he’s happy is when he’s flat on his belly about to squeeze a trigger, confirming/echoing what Henry said about him. “of all the people in the world to send to kill him why would you send me?” Junior asks. “He’s your darkness, you have to walk through this on your own,” says Varris, who explains that the whole point of this was to give Junior all of Henry’s gifts without his pain, and that he is loved. Junior begins to get visibly emotional, crying and hugging Varris, and the dramatic feel of the effects work here is extraordinary.
“It was really cool for me doing this,” Will Smith told us after the footage presentation. “The team at WETA was pulling all of the old footage so I got to see all of the tragedies I committed in entertainment. (laughs) But it is really great to be able to take a look at myself like that, and to be able to take a look at youth verses experience. What age would you REALLY go back to. The 20’s sucked ass, I’m not going anywhere near my 20’s. (laughs) Maybe my 30’s. It is so beautiful to explore that. In my 20’s I never would have said ‘sucked ass’ in this kind of environment. Now I’m more relaxed, more comfortable in my skin.”
“I would like to make it clear that we’re not de-aging,” clarified Lee. “I’d rather think that we created a new character, a youthful Will Smith. The biggest problem is that Will is a much better actor today than 30 years ago.”
“Ang kept asking me when I was playing Junior, ‘Uhh, I need you to act less good,'” Will Smith said to great laughter. “Then he would show me some of my old performances and say, ‘Look at this, that’s not good, I need you to do that.'”
“I’ve been involved in the project for 10 or 15 years,” said producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has worked with Smith on three Bad Boys movies and Enemy of the State before this film. “It’s so exciting to bring this to an audience, and so lucky that these two gentlemen have decided to work together. I really feel blessed because you have a world class filmmaker with a world class actor. Their success is not an accident because they put the time in and they have the energy and the talent.”
Gemini Man follows the story of an older, elite assassin named Henry Brogan (Will Smith) who is trying to retire. In the film, he’s suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move. Directed by Ang Lee, Gemini Man is produced by renowned producers Jerry Bruckheimer and David Ellison along with Smith, James Lassiter, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger.
The film stars Will Smith (I Am Legend) in dual roles; Clive Owen (Closer, Children of Men) who as the head of a cloning program; Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Birds of Prey) as an operative working for the same agency as Smith’s character; and Benedict Wong (MCU, Deadly Class)
The film will hit theaters on October 11.