James Earl Jones Retires as Darth Vader’s Voice, Passing the Torch to AI

At 91 years old, the actor is retiring from his iconic villain role and is passing on the torch to a computer program.

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones has signed off the rights to allow computer artificial intelligence (AI) to recreate his voice acting for Darth Vader. The character’s voice you’ll hear from the next movie and releases for the “Star Wars” franchise will no longer come from the actor.

The first theatrical release poster for “Star Wars.” Photo courtesy of Lucasfilms.

According to a report from Vanity Fair, Sound Editor Mathew Wood of Lucasfilms, the company that holds the license for “Star Wars,” said that they were in discussion on what to do with Darth Vader as the 91-year old actor, Jones, wanted to retire from the character. “He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”

The Ukrainian company Respeecher was successful in recreating how the actor voiced in the early “Star Wars” movies when he was around 46 years old. When Jones was presented with the work by the AI company, he decided to pass on the torch to them to continue the legacy of the iconic villain. He granted usage rights for all the archival recordings to keep the character alive for its massive fanbase. The company is recreating the voice for Darth Vader starting with the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” (2022) series, as well as the voice of the young Luke Skywalker for Disney+’s “The Book of Boba Fett” (2021) and “The Mandalorian.” The last film where Jones voiced the character would be “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” (2019).

Since the 1977 “Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope,” the EGOT (Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys) winning actor has provided the voice of Vader. Although, he was not acknowledged in that movie’s credits. From the original trilogy through the animated series “Star Wars Rebels” (2014), he has since performed the voice of the villains in every production where the character appears. In the latest “Obi-Wan Kenobi” (2022), he was credited, although he didn’t record any new lines for the role.

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