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James Dean to be 're-created' via CGI for Vietnam-era drama

Actor James Dean, who died at age 24

Actor James Dean, who died at age 24 in 1955, appears in a portrait from the early 1950s.  Credit: Getty Images / Hulton Archive

The estate of screen icon James Dean has approved a film-production company's plans to re-create the late actor via computer-generated imagery (CGI) for a Vietnam War-era action-drama.

Magic City Films announced Wednesday that the reconstituted Dean, who died in a car accident in 1955 at age 24, will play the secondary lead, Rogan, in a movie based on Gareth Crocker's "Finding Jack." The novel is based on America's real-life postwar abandonment of thousands of K-9 unit dogs, which were euthanized or given to the Vietnamese as military surplus. Of the 4,000 U.S. war dogs in Vietnam, roughly 200 came home, according to military historians.

A spokeswoman told Newsday Dean would be constructed via existing photos and footage, with a sound-alike actor providing the voice.

"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme[ly] complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean," said the film's producer and co-director, Anton Ernst, in a statement. "We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact."

He added, "The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make." While Dean had done bit parts in Samuel Fuller's "Fixed Bayonets!" (1951), the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy "Sailor Beware" and Rock Hudson's "Has Anybody Seen My Gal" (both 1952), he made his reputation starring in "East of Eden" (1955), released before his death, "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) and "Giant" (1956). Dean earned posthumous Academy Award nominations for "East of Eden" and "Giant."

Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide, the business agent for Dean's family, said in s statement, "With the rapidly evolving technology, we see this as a whole new frontier for many of our iconic clients."

Dean last appeared on Forbes magazine's annual list of highest-revenue dead celebrities in 2015, reaching 13th place with $8.5 million.

Producers hope to release the film theatrically next year on Veterans Day.

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