Deepfake Anthony Bourdain

Pandora's (voice?) box is now open!

The documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,”
which opened in theatres on Friday, is an angry, elegant, often overwhelmingly emotional chronicle of the late television star’s life and his impact on the people close to him. Directed by Morgan Neville, the film portrays Bourdain as intense, self-loathing, relentlessly driven, preternaturally charismatic, and—in his life and in his death, by suicide, in 2018—a man who both focussed and disturbed the lives of those around him. To craft the film’s narrative, Neville drew on tens of thousands of hours of video footage and audio archives—and, for three particular lines heard in the film, Neville commissioned a software company to make an A.I.-generated version of Bourdain’s voice.


When I first spoke with Neville, I was surprised to learn about his use of synthetic audio and equally taken aback that he’d chosen not to disclose its presence in his film. He admitted to using the technology for a specific voice-over that I’d asked about—in which Bourdain improbably reads aloud a despairing e-mail that he sent to a friend, the artist David Choe—but did not reveal the documentary’s other two instances of technological wizardry.

Expect this in every other political ad you'll see in 2024.