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Meet the photographer using AI to cast the next James Bond

Who will be the next James Bond? Photographer Alper Yesiltas uses AI to give us a clearer picture...
Who will be the next James Bond? Photographer Alper Yesiltas uses AI to give us a clearer picture... Copyright Alper Yesiltas
Copyright Alper Yesiltas
By David Mouriquand
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Photographer Alper Yesiltas has used a variety of AI tools to cast the next James Bond and shares his opinion on whether artificial intelligence can replace “true” photography.

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Who will be the next James Bond?

It’s the question on every 007 fan’s mind ever since Daniel Craig sipped his last Vesper and hung up the Walther PPK in 2021’s No Time To Die.

There has been incessant speculation and interesting rumours about who will pick up the coveted mantle, and heavy lies the tux as Craig is considered as one of the best Bonds. This means that another significant, Casino Royale -style transition is in the works for cinema's second-longest running series. (The Bond franchise has had 25 films over 61 years, but the reigning king of the longest running film franchise in history remains Godzilla, on screens since 1954 and with 38 films to date.)

Enter Alper Yesiltas, a lawyer and photographer based in Istanbul, who has become quite the talent when it comes to AI-based photography. 

Having previously digitally depicted some iconic figures with series dealing with aging dead (“As If Nothing Happened”) and living (“Young Age(d)”) celebrities, Yesiltas has used a combination of Midjourney, Dall-E, Artbreeder and Faceapp – among other tools – to depict the James Bond candidates in action, in order to see who best fits the character.

“My point is to create a convincing, believable photorealistic portrait,” Yesiltas tells Euronews Culture.

Mission accomplished. His Bond portraits look incredibly photorealistic and perfectly frame his picks of potential candidates with stylish threads and the iconic cars of Bond.

Check out these three examples of Yesiltas’ AI-photography:

Alper Yesiltas
Idris Elba as 007Alper Yesiltas

Idris Elba as 007

“Elba's digital depiction oozes charisma and confidence, traits that could lend a robust edge to the Bond character. His potential casting would bring a thrilling new dynamic to the Bond franchise.”

Alper Yesiltas
Tom Hiddleston as 007Alper Yesiltas

Tom Hiddleston as 007

“Hiddleston's digital depiction hints at a Bond possessing a quick wit, charm, and a degree of unpredictability. “

Alper Yesiltas
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as 007Alper Yesiltas

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as 007

“Taylor-Johnson has shown a considerable range in his roles, demonstrating an ability to balance action, drama, and humour. His digital depiction as Bond hints at a dynamic, intense, and approachable character.”

“While dreaming about this subject, I integrate the different aspects of the actors with the character,” explains Yesiltas. “After I started working with AI, I thought of producing a project on this, including some actors in my mind, and when I saw that I was able to do this in software with a convincing photorealism, I produced the works in this list.”

The list he mentions shows a clear appreciation for the Bond series and what each actor might bring to the role. 

“The characters you see represent my dream combination of the specific actor and Bond's features I've seen before. For example, when I think of Idris Elba, I imagine Bond's technological and innovative side, while Taron Egerton's or Henry Cavill's features are more traditional.”

Alper Yesiltas
Taron Egerton as 007Alper Yesiltas

Taron Egerton as 007

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“(Egerton) has the potential to bring a fresh, youthful spin to the Bond character. Egerton's digital depiction portrays a suave and agile Bond, with a hint of an audacious spirit.”

Alper Yesiltas
Henry Cavill as 007Alper Yesiltas

Henry Cavill as 007

“In his digital depiction, Cavill's Bond is strong, confident, and commanding. His established history with action-heavy roles suggests that he could step into Bond's stylish shoes with relative ease.”

What about Yesiltas' personal take on who will become the new 007?

“I would like the actor who will play the role of Bond to be the one who can play the role the longest,” he tells Euronews Culture. “To be honest, I think that a less predicted (or a never predicted, not even on this list) younger actor will be chosen for the role of James Bond.”

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A fair assumption, as the prediction curse states that the second your name is in the 007 ring, the less chance the performer has of being cast. Still, a lot of Yesiltas’ picks seem feasible.

“I have a strong feeling that James Norton or Lucien Laviscount will be the next Bond,” he says. “I hope these lines will gain value at a future date!”

I don't think AI-based photography can replace true photography. Artificial intelligence cannot recognize the sensations obtained when shooting a real portrait.

Jet-setting spies aside, what of the warnings regarding the use of AI in art, such as songwriting and photography, which have led some artists to consider AI the enemy of true art, labelling it as undermining artistic creation?

“I think this is a revolutionary process and the first steps of a great change,” says Yesiltas, who has a more positive outlook on the use of AI in art.

“From the point where we can produce art with AI based tools, classical art production looks the same as the classical canvas/brush (or paper/pencil) looks from the point where digital drawing tools are located. In the very near future, the imagination of the artist will be more important than how his art is drawn.”

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“I am not sure if AI-based photorealistic images will replace photographs in the near future,” he adds. “But I don't think AI-based photography can replace true photography. Artificial intelligence cannot recognize the sensations obtained when shooting a real portrait.”

Real or no, check out more of Alper Yesiltas’ impressive Bond portraits below:

Alper Yesiltas
Lucien Laviscount as 007Alper Yesiltas
Alper Yesiltas
Regé-Jean Page as 007Alper Yesiltas
Alper Yesiltas
James Norton as 007Alper Yesiltas
Alper Yesiltas
Tom Hardy as 007Alper Yesiltas
Alper Yesiltas
Richard Madden as 007Alper Yesiltas
Alper Yesiltas
Henry Golding as 007Alper Yesiltas

You can find more of Alper Yesiltas’ work on Instagram, Rarible and Twitter.

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