Hugh Hart
September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Visitors to the official site for the big-screen comedy Simone (s1m0ne.com) can view a page devoted to the ”real Simone” — a computer-generated actress. Of course, the titular star is not really a synthoid, but an all-natural beauty: Canadian model Rachel Roberts (right). So how did the filmmakers turn a flesh-and-blood thesp into a fab fake? Director Andrew Niccol shares a few secrets behind the F/X wizardry. — Hugh Hart

— EYES WIDE OPEN Niccol instructed Roberts to avoid blinking while shooting. ”Blinking seems very human,” explains the director. ”So Rachel trained herself not to blink, and if she did, I’d remove it [digitally].”

— BANNING BLEMISHES Freckles and flaws were verboten, he says: ”We shot her on special film stock and used proprietary software to ‘Simonize’ Rachel by smoothing out her complexion.”

— MUTATING EYEBALLS ”We changed Simone’s eye color throughout the film,” reveals Niccol. ”If there was a special light in the eye that I liked from some other shot, I’d just remove Rachel’s eyeballs and replace them with the other eyeballs.” Niccol laughs. ”Does that sound odd?” Uhhh…yes.

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