Hollywood's dirty secret to make stars look younger is more common than you realise

The tourist jonny depp angelina jolieGK FilmsJohnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in 2010’s ‘The Tourist.’

If you’ve ever wondered how your favourite star can look forever resistant to age, well, turns out there’s some technique behind it.

That actor may be getting digitally retouched.

Special effects aren’t just for huge explosions or creating herds of dinosaurs trampling everything in their path. They also can and do take pimples off of teen stars, erase years off actors’ faces, and elongate bodies to create slimmer physiques.

And some actors require the use of digital retouching in their contracts.

“For a top actress, it’s usually non-contractual with us, so that that document never gets out,” a top entertainment attorney said anonymously in Vulture’s recent feature on digital retouching. “It’s in everyone’s best interest that she not look haggard and that her jowls don’t look too old or whatever.”

The article points to the “suspiciously plasticky” 2010 film “The Tourist,” which stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.

Here’s what Vulture’s story exposes about the secret use of digital retouching in movies and TV:

Digital retouching isn't just for the ladies.

Glen Wilson/Netflix
Paul Reubens in 'Pee-wee's Big Holiday.'

Michael Shannon, who played Zod in 'Batman v Superman,' said digital retouching can be a leading man's best friend, too.

'In postproduction, if they want your nose to be a little smaller or a little bigger, that's up to them, man,' Shannon said. 'Some attractive person gets out of a swimming pool dripping wet? Nobody wants to see how they really look: It's fantasy.'

And at age 63, Paul Reubens was emphatic about casting a younger actor to play his iconic character Pee-wee Herman in Netflix's 'Pee-wee's Big Holiday.' But digital retouching made it possible for him to play the timeless character again.

''Pee-wee doesn't work, to me, with age mixed into it,' Reubens told The New York Times. 'So I knew I wanted digital retouching, and that was my biggest concern from the get-go, with (producer Judd Apatow), when it came to budgeting, because it costs a fortune. I could have had a face-lift and we would have saved two million dollars.''

The technique is also used to make the young and beautiful even younger and more beautiful.

Fox
Naya Rivera and Lea Michele on Fox's 'Glee.'

Hollywood veterans don't hold the monopoly on digital retouching. Producers are using the tech on young actors, as well. Pimples, for example, don't have to be an embarrassing situation. On 'Glee,' for example, a director revealed, 'There was a pimple pass on most episodes.'

And even the most perfect people on the planet, models, get a helping hand from the tech.

Visual-effects supervisor Jim Rider, whose credits include 'Vinyl' and 'Foxcatcher,' said, 'I've done beauty retouching on women who are practically supermodels.'

CGI may make you reconsider an actor's 'body' of work.

Jack O'Connell in 'Unbroken.'

Today, Christian Bale wouldn't need to drop a deadly 63 pounds for 'The Machinist.' Digital retouching can take the physical element out of preparing for a role. For example, Jack O'Connell was saved from having to lose all the weight necessary to play an American soldier in a Japanese POW camp in the Angelina Jolie-directed film, 'Unbroken.'

And 'Homeland' simply hid star Claire Danes' pregnancy by digitally replacing her baby bump with a model's flat torso.

Beauty and physicality are really just the tip of the iceberg for computer-generated imagery, or CGI, in Hollywood. It's being used in all kinds of unexpected performance-enhancing ways, according to Vulture.

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