It’s early for a Friday palate cleanser but this is no ordinary amusement. The three clips below are the best deepfakes I’ve ever seen and I think the first where I haven’t noticed any artifacts in the video that would clue me into the fact that what I’m seeing isn’t real. There are other clues — “Cruise” looks about 20 years younger than his current age and his voice seems the tiniest bit thin at points. (Although that impression is also excellent, especially in the “magic trick” clip.) The strongest evidence that the videos are fake is that the trademark manic laughter and spastic gestures feel exaggerated at points, tipping this over into parody rather than an earnest attempt to fool the viewer.
But whoever the impressionist is, he’s damned good. It’s barely a parody. Which, I guess, is a testament to what a weird dude Tom Cruise comes across as in interviews.
If I squint hard, knowing that the clips are fake, I can nitpick that the video resolution under his chin and along his jawline seems too crisp at times, creating a slight “floating face” effect. But if I came to them cold, I’m sure I would have thought they were authentic. My only question would be why 20-year-old footage of Cruise looks so good on TikTok.
Here’s the “deeptomcruise” page where new videos are being posted in case you want to follow it. I haven’t seen any reporting on who’s behind it, which makes me wonder if it’s a freakishly talented amateur or actually some AI company showing off what it can do, soon to emerge from the shadows and claim responsibility. My guess is that, in the interest of policing for this sort of insidious disinformation, courts will eventually allow celebrities to sue deepfakers by asserting their “right of publicity” even if their image hasn’t been appropriated for commercial purposes. As for the rest of us, this technology guarantees that we’ll be seeing 40-year-old “Tom Cruise” starring in movies long after he’s entered old age, or even died. Skilled impressionists will find more work in Hollywood in the future than they do now.
I love magic!