"I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that," Ottavia Busia said of the film director's statements.

By Nick Romano
July 16, 2021 at 10:20 AM EDT
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Anthony Bourdain's ex-wife Ottavia Busia has seen reports of the Roadrunner documentary crew using A.I. software to recreate Bourdain's voice in the film, and she doesn't seem too happy about it — at least not with what the director was suggesting.

Busia responded to the matter on Twitter Thursday night, clearing up something the filmmaker, Morgan Neville, had mentioned in an interview.

He had told GQ in an interview that he "checked with his widow and his literary executor, just to make sure people were cool" with recreating Bourdain's voice in that way. "And they were like, Tony would have been cool with that," he said. "I wasn't putting words into his mouth. I was just trying to make them come alive."

"I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that," Busia tweeted.

Responding to a Twitter user who asked if she had anything to do with Roadrunner, she wrote, "Besides the interview I gave and supplying some of the footage, not really."

A rep for the movie's distributor Focus Features and the filmmakers didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain shares an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the life of Bourdain, how he went from being an unknown chef to a cultural figure, and how his surviving friends and family remember him after his death. Bourdain died by suicide in June 2018. Bourdain married Busia in 2007, and they later split up in 2016.

The film sparked a debate on social media platforms about the ethics of using computer technology to recreate Bourdain's voice after Neville revealed he did so with "three quotes" that Bourdain had written but never spoken.

Ottavia Busia and Anthony Bourdain
Ottavia Busia and Anthony Bourdain
| Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

"We fed more than 10 hours of Tony's voice into an A.I. model," he told GQ. "The bigger the quantity, the better the result. We worked with four companies before settling on the best. We also had to figure out the best tone of Tony's voice: His speaking voice versus his 'narrator' voice, which itself changed dramatically over the years."

Focus Features provided the following statement from Neville to EW on the matter on Thursday: "There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud. With the blessing of his estate and literary agent we used A.I. technology. It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony's words come alive."

Roadrunner released Friday.

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