“You don’t know the power of the dark side”, says Darth Vader in Star Wars. The iconic lines are spoken by the unforgettably deep and rumbling voice of James Earl Jones. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the voice is more memorable than the lines that he speaks. Now the Star Wars franchise will have to do without it.
After nearly 40 years voicing the role, Jones, aged 91, has signed over the rights to his voice to filmmakers using new AI, technology, Matthew Wood of Lucasfilm told the magazine that the actor “wished to keep Vader alive”
“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”
Jones made his debut as the legendary Star Wars villain in the 1977 film, and followed this up with voicing the same character throughout the franchise up to this point on both the big and small screen. He most recently starred as the character for the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+.
While actor David Prowse dressed in the distinctive black uniform of the Sith Lord for the original films, it was Jones who provided the unique deep tones of the complex Vader.
Jones’ credentials and achievements go far beyond the Darth Vader voice. He is a celebrated EGOT, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. He received an honorary Academy Award in 2011, having been nominated for Best Actor in the 1970 The Great White Hope.
While some of the stars from the franchise—like Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor–have made a return to the franchise in recent years, one of the most distinctive actors of all is finally signing off. The next time we hear that booming powerful voice in a Star Wars feature, it will be AI technology.