Who's back from the grave in ''Sky Captain''? It's Laurence Olivier, dead for 15 years but resurrected as a hologram in the all-CGI movie

By Gary Susman
Updated July 27, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

To play the villain in the upcoming ”Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” rookie director Kerry Conran cast the greatest classical actor of the 20th century. That he’s been dead for 15 years did not prevent Laurence Olivier from taking a role in the all-CGI movie, which opens Sept. 17. ”Sky Captain” star Jude Law paid tribute to his resurrected costar at last weekend’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego, telling fans it was a dream come true to work with Olivier. ”He plays my nemesis. And he’s referred to throughout the movie so you know eventually you’re going to get to see this bad guy,” Law said, according to the Associated Press. ”It builds up, and you only see him in the last minutes, and he’s in hologram form.”

In ”Sky Captain,” which costars Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, Law plays a 1930s pilot who saves New York from an army of marauding robots. For months, the film has been touted as a CGI landmark in which only the actors are real and everything else, including the sets, is a digital creation. Now, it appears that not even all the actors are real; Law said Olivier had been brought back to life via footage compiled from several of his movies and other archival sources, with a new actor recording his dialogue.

Actually, it’s not the first time that a movie has electronically resurrected Olivier. A decade ago, when the restored ”Spartacus” was released to theaters, it included a scene too racy for the original 1960 release, in which Olivier’s apparently bisexual Roman senator seems to put the make on his bath slave, played by Tony Curtis. The footage recovered for the scene lacked an audio track, however. The restorers had Curtis rerecord his lines, and reading for the late Olivier was Anthony Hopkins.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 107 minutes
  • Kerry Conran