Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s blood-soaked fever dream of a World War II movie, was originally meant to star Leonardo DiCaprio as Hans Landa, the role that ultimately went to Christoph Waltz. Michael Fassbender’s Archie Hicox was also, at one point, meant to be played by Tim Roth or Simon Pegg. While Waltz and Fassbender’s performances are inextricably tied to the film’s success, one missed casting opportunity haunts us to the present day: The fact that Eli Roth played the murderous Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz rather than the original plan to give the role to the most terrifying actor in all of Hollwood, Adam Sandler.
Now, because deepfake technology has rendered all reality completely malleable, we can see how Sandler’s take on the character might’ve played out.
Courtesy of Reds Only, Donowitz’ debut in the movie—walking down a dark tunnel, tapping his baseball bat against the wall while a Nazi captive awaits his death—is reconfigured to become even more frightening. Clips from Billy Madison are added, giving us the menace of Sandler’s drunken manchild threatening a “silly penguin” before he eventually emerges into the light. We’re given a moment to soak in this visual of Sandler’s face on Roth’s body before he beats the Nazi to death while channeling Happy Gilmore: “You like that, old man?”
It is, visually at least, seamlessly done, and a reminder of how quickly technology advances over the years. Before deepfakes became as ubiquitous as they are now, we had to settle for far less sophisticated versions of this sort of thing. At one point in time, imagining Adam Sandler in the Inglourious Basterds’ role could only be accomplished through audio alone. As you can see for yourself, the results, while far more haunting, aren’t quite as uncanny.
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