The creators of Edith Piaf's AI biopic spoke exclusively to Variety about working with the French legend's estate and not wanting her “to look cartoonish.”

Julie Veille and Gilles Marliac of Paris-based production company Seriously Happy wanted to address the concerns brought up when the news broke. Veille originally came up with the idea, while Marliac co-wrote and will co-produce the movie with her.

The film Edith will track the La Vie en Rose singer's life in Paris and New York from the 1920s through the 1960s.

Edith Piaf AI movie is not a documentary; it's an animated biopic

Edith Piaf with a speech bubble that says, "A.I."

The producers have insisted that the film is not a documentary. Rather, they've called it an animated biopic.

And as for the use of AI, it was used to reproduce Piaf's voice.

Veille said, “We did many tests. We started developing this project two years ago and it’s been a very intense process because we wanted to test many things and we wanted to make sure it was going to work. So first we tested the voice reproduction, which was very complicated. Edith Piaf’s voice is so recognizable, with its intonations and strong emotions.”

“We also wanted the animation to be completely realistic, which was also a desire shared by the Edith Piaf estate, so we worked with a deep fake tool and applied it to the drawings in order to make the animated face look even more real,” she continued. 

The two worked with Mac Guff Line who did 2010's Despicable Me and used the studio's in-house AI tools. Marliac said that they used deep fakes in the animation.

Veille was more coy with how the movie makes use of deep fakes when it came to the archival footage. She insisted that they would “never alter it in a way that distorts reality,” but would customize it so improve on the footage to make it “look harmonious with the rest of the animated feature.”

The film will be a 3D animation, in accordance to the Piaf estate wish to make the celebrated performer's depiction realistic. Piaf's estate is represented by her sisters-in-law.

Stop motion vs. deep fake

When asked about how the movie would compare with Tom Hanks 2004 Polar Express, shot exclusively using motion capture, and how audiences found the ultra-realistic look weird, the producers said deep fake is very different.

As for the decision to make an animated film rather than live action, which had already been done in 2007 in the Marion Cotillard-led La Vie en Rose, the producers said it was to give the movie “a poetic edge.”

The film is also produced by Warner Music Group so it will have Edith Piaf's songs sung in the singer's original voice. The movie will begin in French and end in English.

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Edith Piaf with a speech bubble that says, "A.I."

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This opens up the possibilities when it comes to voice casting.

“Apart from Edith Piaf, the other characters will be voiced by real actors. So the AI isn't stealing anyone's job,” Marliac stated.

The producers are still searching for a filmmaker, but said they will not limit themselves to a French one.

“The most important thing is to find someone who loves Edith Piaf, who feels close to this character,” Veille said.