From Paramount Pictures and Academy Award®-winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) comes an innovative action-thriller—Gemini Man. Renowned producers Jerry Bruckheimer, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Don Granger produce the groundbreaking movie that features Will Smith starring opposite a 23-year-old version of himself. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong co-star in Gemini Man, coming to Regal theatres nationwide tonight.
Henry Brogan (Will Smith), an ex-Special Forces sniper turned assassin, is the very best at what he does, making him an indispensable asset for his government. Then one day, the aging assassin finds himself the target of a mysterious young operative, Junior (Will Smith), who can predict his every move. Junior is just as good as Brogan because he is Brogan.
The title, Gemini Man, originates from the third astrological sign in the zodiac, Gemini, and its corresponding constellation. In Latin, Gemini translates to “twins” and is represented by the twin half-brothers Castor and Pollux, together known as the Dioscuri. Just look at the poster for Gemini Man, which features Will Smith facing off with his younger self, and it’s easy to understand the motivation behind the title. Gemini is also the name of Clay Verris’ secret project from which Junior originates, a program that seeks to create the ultimate soldier through cloning and DNA manipulation. This practically makes elite soldiers like Henry Brogan immortal. Similarly, the mythological twins Castor and Pollux are immortal, living on through the constellation Gemini.
CAST AND CHARACTERS
(left to right) Henry Brogan (Will Smith), Junior (Will Smith), Danny Zakarewski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Clay Verris (Clive Owen), and Baron (Benedict Wong) in Gemini Man (2019)
Will Smith as Henry Brogan/Junior
International superstar Will Smith has enjoyed a long and storied career as a musician, actor, and producer, earning him four Grammys and two Academy Award® nominations. His filmography, full of blockbusters and award-winning movies, includes Bad Boys (1995), Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997), Ali (2001), I, Robot (2004), and most recently, Disney and Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake, Aladdin (2019).
Will Smith makes history in Gemini Man starring opposite himself, portraying both the ex-Special Forces sniper turned assassin, Henry Brogan, and his younger clone, Junior.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Danny Zakarewski
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof (2007), Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), the J.J. Abrams-produced 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), and opposite Bruce Willis in both Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). Winstead will be starring as Helena Bertinelli/Huntress in the highly anticipated Warner Bros. movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, coming to theatres February 7, 2020.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead works with another iconic filmmaker in Ang Lee for her role as DIA agent Danny Zakarewski in Gemini Man.
Clive Owen as Clay Verris
British actor Clive Owen made his feature-length movie debut in Vroom (1998) and has since gone on to star in a diverse list of movies alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood. He earned an Academy Award® nomination and Golden Globe® win starring opposite Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and Natalie Portman in Closer (2004) and has worked with iconic filmmakers Robert Rodriguez in Sin City (2005), Alfonso Cuarón in Children of Men (2006), Spike Lee in Inside Man (2006), and Tony Gilroy in Duplicity (2009), to name a few.
Clive Owen stars as Clay Verris in Gemini Man, the father figure to Junior and former Marine officer who started the Gemini Project.
Benedict Wong as Baron
Much like his Gemini Man co-stars, Benedict Wong has a diverse filmography that includes work with big name directors and legendary franchises. He has appeared in Tony Scott’s Spy Game (2001), Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (2007), Luc Besson’s The Lady (2011), and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) and The Martian (2015). Wong is perhaps best known for his role as a Master of the Mystic Arts in Marvel’s Doctor Strange (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). He will also be appearing in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, coming to theatres May 7, 2021.
In Gemini Man, Benedict Wong stars as Henry Brogan’s longtime friend, Baron.
Gemini Man features breathtaking locations from around the world. “From its inception, Gemini Man was always designed to be an international thriller with multiple locations,” says Jerry Bruckheimer. Executive producer Brian Bell explains, “There were locations written into the script, but there were no locations scouted at that point. And Ang’s process requires that we go out into the world to find places that inform the story as much as the story informs the places.” The production traveled to Savannah, Georgia, then down to Cartagena, Colombia, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Budapest, Hungary. “Ultimately, we decided for Budapest, because it was less known, less seen, less overshot, more interesting locations, and it’s a real filmmaking city, so there was support,” says Bell. “Although there were scenes originally set in Cuba, Ang fell in love with Cartagena at first sight, and that was that. It’s a special location and has barely been seen in feature films. And we started in Savannah, which was probably one of the more manageable locations from a tactical production standpoint.”
A scene from Gemini Man (2019) filmed in Cartagena, Colombia
When you see a scene that takes place in Cartagena or Budapest, the scene was actually filmed in those locations, unlike what is often done in movies today when a location stands in for a different location on screen. “I think one of the early decisions that Ang made, which was really a masterstroke, was to play the locations as the locations in the story,” says production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas. “In our industry, we have a tendency to go to places like London or Sydney and imagine that they’re New York or the Sahara Desert. But Ang was smart enough to say, ‘Well look, let’s just play them as they are. Let’s immerse ourselves in those places and really show the details and cultures of those individual cities.’”
“The concept of man being chased by himself—that’s a really compelling idea for a story,” says director Ang Lee. “Thanks to the technology, now it’s possible.”
Although this is a visual effects (VFX) driven movie, VFX supervisor and two-time Academy Award® winner Bill Westenhofer hopes you don’t even notice them. “We want you to watch this film and not have thought that visual effects were used at all,” says Westenhofer. Over the years, the hurdles of visual effects have continued to move. First, water and animals were the toughest to reproduce digitally, but now it is a human being. When creating digital human beings, even the smallest details are important because if they are off, the figure becomes unrecognizable as a human. “They call that the uncanny valley,” says Westenhofer, “where something is off about it that’s kind of disturbing to look at. So until very recently, the uncanny valley has been insurmountable. With Gemini Man, we’re crossing the uncanny valley for the first time.”
Westenhofer and his team enlisted Weta Digital to pull off the creation of Will Smith’s digital counterpart, a feat made tougher by the fact that many around the world have been watching Will Smith since the beginning of his career and immediately recognize his face and mannerisms. Weta’s Guy Williams says, “We had to scour every single piece of footage we could find, and every photograph of Will at the age of 23 so that we could start building Junior, but also working with Will where we put him in front of eight calibrated cameras capturing all the positions of his face.”
On set, Guy Williams and the Weta Digital team would have Will Smith perform the scenes that only contain Junior while wearing a helmet rig that tracks his facial animation, allowing Smith to perform the role with the other actors in frame. “I was trying to find the nuances, to make the voice delineations and all of those things,” explains Smith. “But then the real work started when the animators went in and began to create the character. They began to create the look, and how they were able to craft the character visually.” To create the character, Weta Digital modeled everything done to the root structure of a tooth so that they could go in later and add those details on top of Will Smith’s performance.
Frame rate, the frequency (rate) at which consecutive images (frames) appear on screen, has remained relatively consistent throughout the years. The human eye perceives consecutive still images as motion beginning at around 12 frames per second (fps). The very first, silent movies had frame rates ranging from 16 to 24 frames per second (fps), achieved by hand-cranking the cameras. The rate of 24 fps became the industry standard around 1927-1930 and remains the favorite to this day. For Gemini Man, director Ang Lee opted for 120 fps as well as 4k resolution in 3D to create a unique, fully immersive experience.
Filming in a higher frame rate populates a sequence with more still images, providing more visual detail and reducing motion blur. “Leveraging 120 fps gave us important information that ultimately allowed us to create the most believable Junior possible,” says David Ellison. “It’s something that’s never been done before, and I know audiences will respond when they see it on the big screen.” For Ang Lee, too much motion blur distracts from the experience of connecting with the person, or digitally created person, on screen. Technical supervisor Ben Gervais says, “The only solution is to add more frames. Getting us to the 120 frames per second realm with the resolution that Ang likes in 4k and 3D means that your brain is starting to treat the film as something more real and intimate. You’re not a third person viewer, you’re IN the story.” Bill Westenhofer adds, “You see detail in the fights and detail in the motion that would be buried in blur at a normal film format.”
“Since we have reduced or removed all of these previous limitations,” says Lee, “we now need a new kind of moviemaking. The combination of these elements: 3D, digital cinematography, high frame rate, high resolution and increased brightness becomes ‘new immersive cinema.’ Because of the rich level of detail we gather, we are able to more directly read into characters through high frame rate.” Ang Lee's "new immersive cinema" is known as 3D+.
Gemini Man comes to Regal theatres nationwide tonight. You have a number of viewing options based on the 3D+ and high frame rate (HFR) technology, including the standard format, 3D+ in HFR, 4DX: 3D+ in HFR, IMAX: 3D+ in HFR, and Open Cap/Eng Sub.