It’s called “beauty work.” It's a digital procedure of sorts, in which a handful of skilled artists use highly specialized software in the final stages of post-production to slim, de-age and enhance actors’ faces and bodies.
This is the version of on-screen stars that we, the audience, see. And if this comes as any surprise, it’s because the first rule of beauty work is: Don’t talk about beauty work.
Under strict non-disclosure agreements, Hollywood A-listers have been quietly slipping in and out of a few bland office buildings around town, many to sit in on days-long retouching sessions, directing the artists to make every frame suitable. At one such facility, young, fit up-and-comers disrobe for a handheld scanner that captures every pore and hair follicle, creating a template for future beauty work that, as a result, will appear all the more natural.
The technique made its “out” debut when Lola aged Brad Pitt backwards for Benjamin Button in 2008. As it turned out, the most striking visual in David Fincher’s epic wasn’t Button the shriveled, elderly man-child. It came toward the end of the film, when Pitt emerged into the golden light of a dance studio as a naturally radiant, strapping 20-something
I remember that scene, and being blown away by how Brad Pitt looked.