At first glance, the action hero has nothing in common with Paul Reubens’ signature role, the child-like star of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.”
Harrison Ford’s Jones saves the day with his fists. Pee-wee chuckles while avoiding adult responsibility at every turn.
More importantly, Reubens is 63. And Ford will be in his mid-70s by the time he stands before the cameras once more for Steven Spielberg and co.
Take a look at the trailer for “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” debuting March 18 on Netflix. Reubens looks like he just hopped out of a time capsule. He could pass for 33. Maybe 32.
How is that possible? A potpourri of favorable lighting, makeup and digital nips and tucks made it happen.
“The difference between people getting their picture taken in a restaurant and a (Pee-wee) scene in the restaurant is we spent six hours professionally lighting with makeup,” Reubens says.
Could Ford benefit from the same FX wizardry to beat back father time? Would he even request such treatment?
What about other stars hoping to resume a beloved character? Will they submit to the Reubens makeover? It’s an issue that won’t go away given Hollywood’s zest for franchise extensions.
Ford alone is involved with not just a fifth “Indy” feature but a new “Blade Runner” sequel. What about Sigourney Weaver? She’ll star in a new “Alien” sequel, although final release details are forthcoming. Could Weaver, 66, agree to the kind of digital trickery meant to show her as younger, and more appealing to crowds that wrinkle their noses at crow’s feet?
David Scott, a program instructor with CMU College of Makeup Art & Design, says 10 years ago it would have been very unusual to see someone de-aged digitally.
That doesn’t mean it’s a snap to de-age an actor for a given role. They’d need the star’s permission, of course. And, in the case of the “Indiana Jones” franchise, the narrative’s timeline has aged along with its star.
In “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” our hero is slugging it out in the 1950s, not the 1940s anymore.
“If they did want to de-age Ford, undoubtedly they would use all the same techniques used on Reubens including digital effects,” Scott says.
The approach isn’t commonly used in Hollywood … yet. We’ve seen it sporadically, including those scenes of a youthful Michael Douglas in last year’s “Ant Man.”
Let’s face it. Younger stars get most of the high-profile gigs. When 30-something actors like Anne Hathaway and Olivia Wilde share how they were aged out of roles, it’s clear the industry’s youth obsessions is real.
Scott says even though the “fountain of youth” tool kit exists, he doesn’t see a trend with other stars going the Reubens route.
Maybe Ford doesn’t even need such a makeover.
The actor stole entire sections of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” That’s even after he suffered a significant leg injury during the production. So he’s likely up for the physical challenge of a fifth Indy adventure. And he’s heartier than most 70-somethings, with a full shock of hair and that twinkle that made characters from Han Solo to Indy part of pop culture lore.
That twinkle can’t be generated by CGI. And it’s why fans will line up to see Ford’s fifth Indy chapter, wrinkles and all.