Actors who needed to be digitally edited

Filmmakers today can bring practically anything realistically to life using digital effects, from exploding space stations to giant transforming robots. Sometimes, though, this technology is used for decidedly more mundane purposes—like making an actor's body parts look bigger or erasing embarrassing tattoos so they don't appear in topless scenes. Here's a look at some actors whose real-life features had to be digitally altered for the movies.

Wesley Snipes - Blade: Trinity

Blade: Trinity was infamously nearly derailed during the production process by a feud between actor Wesley Snipes and director David S. Goyer. According to Patton Oswalt, who had a role in the film, Snipes and Goyer would frequently have heated arguments on set—and on one occasion, Snipes even attempted to strangle Goyer while he was dressed in full Blade costume. This caused a breakdown of communication between the two which eventually resulted in Snipes only communicating via Post-It notes left around the set, all of which he helpfully and adorably signed "From Blade."

Goyer, not wanting to deal with Snipes, attempted to film as many of his scenes as possible using stand-ins. Snipes responded to this slight by intentionally ruining scenes by either refusing to speak his lines or react the way the script called for. The most hilarious example occurred when Goyer asked Snipes to open his eyes for a dramatic shot of him waking up in the film's climax, and Snipes absolutely refused. Rather than pressing Snipes to do his job, Goyer simply had the effects department CGI some eyes onto Snipes' uncooperative face.

Dakota Johnson - Fifty Shades of Grey

Whenever you see a nude scene in a movie, there's a good chance that nobody on set ever really got naked. Often, actors wear flesh-colored underwear, and for most movies this is enough, because sex scenes don't really factor into the plot. Not true for the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The sex scenes are the plot, which posed a unique problem for the effects department.

Specifically because it showed more skin than most other films do, a decision needed to be made about whether or not Dakota Johnson's character, Anastasia Steele, had a personal grooming routine. Apparently she didn't, because a digital effects artist had to go in during post-production and use CGI to give Johnson a tasteful tuft of pubic hair after using digital effects to remove the flesh-colored covering protecting her dignity. Cinematographer, Seamus McGarvey would later refer to this as one of the most surreal moments of his entire career—closely followed by overseeing the hiring process of a suitable butt double for Johnson.

Nicolas Cage - Ghost Rider

Nicolas Cage loves him some comic books. His son Kal-El is named after Superman, he changed his own last name early in his career from Coppola to Cage as a nod to the Marvel character Luke Cage, and he even has a large tattoo of the Ghost Rider on his arm. This latter tribute proved to be a problem when Cage was set to star in the 2007 Ghost Rider film, because, well, it would have been kind of weird for Johnny Blaze to have a tattoo of his own superhero alter ego on his bicep.

So the decision was made to use "the magic of special effects" to hide the offending tattoo whenever Cage needed to take off his shirt. A persistent rumor surrounding the movie suggests that Cage's abs were also created using the magic of CGI; however, his Ghost Rider co-star Eva Mendes has confirmed that they were, in fact, 100 percent real.

Kristian Nairn - Game of Thrones

There's a scene in the first season of Game of Thrones when the character Hodor, played by actor Kristian Nairn, gets naked—revealing the giant character's suitably plus-sized penis.

To achieve the illusion, Nairn was asked to wear a realistic-looking 16-inch prosthetic that was attached to his groin using glue. The effects department then blended the whole thing to his own body using digital effects, airbrushing out a special thong Nairn was wearing beneath the whole get-up. According to Nairn, this thong shielded his actual penis from view so well that one of his co-stars let out an audible gasp when she saw the giant prosthetic for the first time and asked if it was real. Nairn's response? "Luckily, no."

The actor also noted that the effects department made two different prosthetic penises and he got to pick which one to wear based on how well he felt it suited him. Knowing this, you have to assume that Nairn's response was to silently point to the larger fake penis and nod slowly.

Paul Reubens - Pee-Wee's Big Holiday

If you happened to catch Pee-Wee's Big Holiday on Netflix, you may have noticed that actor Paul Reubens looked surprisingly spry and youthful for a 60-something-year-old man. To give the impression that Reubens hadn't aged since his last TV appearance as the character, CGI provided by Vitality Visual FX was used in tandem with make-up, lighting and sticky tape to de-age the actor. That last part isn't a joke, by the way—they literally used tape to pull back Reubens' face for some scenes to make his skin look smoother. Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best ones. 

Reubens, to his credit, was surprisingly open about the use of CGI to remove his wrinkles, admitting that Pee-Wee simply wouldn't work "with age mixed into it" and quipping, "I could have had a facelift and we would have saved two million dollars."

Billy Crudup - Watchmen

The character Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen was physically portrayed by actor Billy Crudup and fitness model Greg Plitt, with the former providing Manhattan's face and the latter his Adonis-like physique. What isn't clear, however, is which man served as the basis for Manhattan's glowing blue radioactive penis.

According to Crudup, he filmed a lot of his scenes in the nude, so—as he put it—"if you see anything, it was totally me." This is somewhat at odds with the fact that we know the basis of Manhattan's physique was provided by another actor—and a statement made by director Zack Snyder, who sheepishly admitted that his team adjusted the size of Dr Manhattan's member in post-production to make it fittingly large for a being who could extinguish all of reality. That's a lot of work for genitalia, but Snyder felt the penis was so important to the movie that he added more shots to the director's cut.

The cast of Glee

The hit musical dramedy Glee continued the longstanding Hollywood tradition of hiring older actors to play teenagers—and although none of the actors playing high schoolers on the show were the age they were supposed to be, they still apparently suffered from a fairly common affliction that plagues all young people: acne.

This didn't sit well with the producers, who paid an unnamed visual effects company to do what was dubbed "a pimple pass" on most episodes to ensure every actor's skin was blemish-free. Because if there's anything that's going to make a show relatable to young people, it's flawless-looking actors with perfect skin complaining about being unattractive.

Henry Cavill - Justice League

The team behind Justice League ended up using the same technology used to create King Kong, Godzilla, and Optimus Prime to remove a mustache from Henry Cavill's face—something that could have just as easily been accomplished with a five-dollar razor from a gas station, if it weren't for the fact that Cavill was contractually obligated to not shave it off until filming for the next Mission: Impossible movie wrapped.

Because of this scheduling snafu, when director Joss Whedon was brought on by DC and Warner Bros to take over the movie for a sidelined Zack Snyder in June of 2017, he found himself in an awkward situation for reshoots. Because the reshoots couldn't really be postponed, Warners told Whedon to film the scenes anyway, and use CGI to remove the facial hair in post-production.

Scarlett Johansson - Ghost in the Shell

The live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation infamously caused quite a stir when it was revealed that Scarlett Johansson would be portraying the film's protagonist, Motoko Kusanagi—a character who, if you can't tell already by her name, is Japanese in the source material.

Although some Japanese fans and the director of the 1995 anime adaptation saw no problem with Johansson's casting, it still drew accusations of whitewashing—something the filmmakers made worse when it was revealed that early in production, they'd toyed with the idea of making actors look more Asian by using CGI to "shift [their] ethnicity." They might have caused less controversy if they'd just said they were going to give Johansson buckteeth and ask her to talk like Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's 

After word leaked, a statement was quickly issued stating that even though they absolutely did toy with the idea of using CGI to make a character look more Asian, they never went ahead with it. It's nice that more sensible heads eventually prevailed, but still—that's pretty bad.