The new Anthony Bourdain documentary features a range of voices weighing on the all-star chef’s life — including a computerized version of Bourdain himself.

Director Morgan Neville deployed A.I. technology to create a voice-over reading of an email the late chef had written in “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” according to an interview with The New Yorker.

Neville pored over hundreds of hours of footage of Bourdain to stitch together voice-overs for the film, which hits theaters Friday, he told the outlet.

When he couldn’t find an existing narration to match an email he wanted read in the film, he made it up, according to the report.

“There were three quotes there I wanted his voice for that there were no recordings of,” Neville reportedly said. “I created an A.I. model of his voice.”

Director Morgan Neville attends the premiere of "Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain."
Director Morgan Neville attends the premiere of “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.”
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Anthony Bourdain in Morgan Neville's documentary "Roadrunner."
Anthony Bourdain in Morgan Neville’s documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.”
Focus Features via AP

“If you watch the film… you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know,” he told the magazine. “We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”

Critics took to social media to lambast the filmmaker’s tactic.

“When I wrote my review I was not aware that the filmmakers had used an A.I. to deepfake Bourdain’s voice for portions of the narration. I feel like this tells you all you need to know about the ethics of the people behind this project,” Sean Burns, a critic for Boston’s WBUR tweeted Thursday.

“My only real thought about the Anthony Bourdain AI voice thing is that I’m probably not qualified to meaningfully comment on it, but Anthony Bourdain almost definitely would’ve HATED it,” one user wrote.

This image released by Focus Features shows Anthony Bourdain in Morgan Neville's documentary "Roadrunner."
Backlash has now come for Morgan Neville after the news of the A.I. voiceover for Bourdain came out.
Focus Features via AP

Helen Rosner, who penned the New Yorker piece, also addressed the controversy.

“Kinda wish I hadn’t written the Bourdain AI thing so that I could write a piece weighing in on the Bourdain AI thing,” Rosner tweeted.

The film takes an in-depth look at Bourdain’s rise from New York kitchens to worldwide fame, his personal life and search for happiness, and his shocking 2018 suicide.



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