Sean Penn is pulling no punches in his takedown of studios wanting to use artificial intelligence to exploit the likenesses and voices of actors for use in future projects. In a new interview with Variety, Penn sounded off on the major SAG and WGA sticking point amid the strikes that have made the once-looming threat of AI now feel like a pervasive reality.
His pitch starts with him and a camera crew in a room with studio heads, where he will then tell executives, “So you want my scans and voice data and all that. OK, here’s what I think is fair: I want your daughter’s, because I want to create a virtual replica of her and invite my friends over to do whatever we want in a virtual party right now. Would you please look at the camera and tell me you think that’s cool?”
Penn, who asserted that he was totally serious in his proposition, said, “It’s not about business. It’s an indecent proposal. That they would do that and not be taken to task for it is insulting. This is a real exposé on morality — a lack of morality.”
The director of the Ukraine war documentary “Superpower” and star of TIFF premiere “Daddio” has already been vocal about the issue of AI as it relates to Hollywood. The writer, director, and Oscar-winning actor said at the Cannes 2023 press conference for the film “Black Flies” (per PBS News Hour), “There’s a lot of new concepts being tossed about including the use of AI. It strikes me as a human obscenity for there to be pushback on that from the producers.”
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are still in gridlock with the AMPTP over issues like AI, fair pay, and residuals. This summer, AMPTP figureheads seemed to double down in their commitment to using AI as a tool for writing and performance. Disney reportedly already has an AI task force across its parks, TV, and advertising teams. Back in July, Netflix posted a job for an AI product manager to “optimize” film and TV production through its “machine learning program.” Filmmakers have trashed the idea of AI as a filmmaking resource, from Charlie Kaufman to Tim Burton.