Beginning this weekend, fans of the late great Anthony Bourdain can get a deeper look at his unabashedly adventurous life with the new documentary Roadrunner. But not all of the Bourdain quotes featured in the film were actually spoken by the chef and writer during his lifetime. To help Roadrunner along, filmmaker Morgan Neville used AI learning technology to deepfake Bourdain’s voice for three separate quotes.
All the AI quotes do come from Bourdain. But they might’ve been written instead of spoken, or the original audio wasn’t quite up to snuff. The deepfaked voice was discovered by the New Yorker’s Helen Rosner, who asked Neville how he got a soundbite of Bourdain reading an email he’d sent a friend. Turns out, it was AI all along.
“There were three quotes there I wanted his voice for that there were no recordings of,” Neville told Rosner. “If you watch the film, other than that line you mentioned, you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”
You can hear this deepfaked voice in the Roadrunner trailer around the 1:30 mark. Check it out below.
In his review of Roadrunner for Consequence, Clint Worthington writes that the film “feels like engaging in a kind of collective mourning, a desperate bid to understand a man who meant so much to so many, even if we never met him. For those of us who cared about Tony, whether through the television or a recipe, this is essential viewing.” In more Bourdain news, his crime novel Gone Bamboo is set to be adapted into a TV series..