James Earl Jones is retiring from Star Wars and voicing Darth Vader. According to Vanity Fair, Jones’ voice has altered over the last 45 years since he first voiced the iconic villain, prompting 91-year-old Jones to step away from the role. Jones has signed the voice rights to Darth Vader over to Lucasfilm and Respeecher. Respeecher is a Ukrainian company that uses an A.I. program to take voices from archival footage to create new dialogue if the original voice actors have died or experienced changes in their voices. This method was recently used in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ when Darth Vader made an unexpected appearance.
James Earl Jones Leaves Darth Vader and ‘Star Wars’
James Earl Jones has been voicing Darth Vader since the first Star Wars film was released in 1977. The character was portrayed in body and voice by David Prowse. During post-production, Lucas dubbed Jones’ voice over Prowse’s, and Darth Vader’s familiar voice was brought to life. Jones continued to voice Darth Vader in the two sequels, Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Rebels, Rogue One, and The Rise of Skywalker. The idea of anyone else voicing Darth Vader is almost sacrilegious to some Star Wars fans, and thanks to this technology from Respeecher, Darth Vader’s voice will live on even after Jones is gone.
Along with his famous voice work as Darth Vader, Jones also famously provided the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King as well as its live-action remake. He’s also had many roles in film (Dr. Strangelove, Field of Dreams, The Sandlot, etc.), television (Law and Order, House M.D.), and stage (Fences, Othello, Hamlet). He won three Tony Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Grammy. Last week, the Cort Theatre on Broadway was renamed the James Earl Jones theatre to honor his legacy as an actor.
Are you glad that James Earl Jones’ voice will still be used for Darth Vader in Star Wars thanks to Respeecher’s A.I. technology? Share your thoughts in the comments.