An AI version of James Stewart now exists, but should it?

A company has used artificial intelligence to make it seem as if James Stewart — who died in 1997 — is reading a bedtime story.

James Stewart

Don’t let the bed bugs bite, you wonderful old Building and Loan! James Stewart – or rather the voice of James Stewart – will get the artificial intelligence treatment through Calm, the popular meditation and sleep app. With approval from the actor’s estate, James Stewart will read, appropriately enough, “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story” just in time for the holidays.

As per Variety, the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington star introduces his story with, “Well, hello. I’m James Stewart. But, well, you can call me Jimmy…Tonight, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a heartwarming story of love, of loss, of hope and of joy. But most of all, it’s a wonderful sleep story.” These words, we have to assume, were never uttered by Stewart in his 89 years on this planet – yet could very well be the first introduction that some have to the legendary actor.

In a statement, one of James Stewart’s daughters said, “We are excited for our dad to be the voice of Calm’s latest Sleep Story. It’s amazing what technology can do and wonderful to see Dad’s legacy live on this holiday season in new ways, like helping people find restful sleep and sweet dreams.” Fittingly enough, Stewart’s final film credit is voice work on An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Stewart passed away in 1997, the same year we got the long-deceased Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum. Like Stewart’s AI reemergence, Astaire’s commercial was approved by his family.

The recreation of James Stewarts’ iconic voice arrives via Respeech, the company that also allowed the distinct voice of James Earl Jones to be featured in Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as that of Mark Hamill in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.

While some may still find this to be unethical despite estate approval, it’s certainly far more acceptable than, say, stealing an actor’s voice to sell a dental plan

How do you feel about James Stewart’s voice being recreated using AI technology? Which deceased celebrity would be the best fit for a bedtime story? Give us your thoughts below.

Source: Variety

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.