Listen to this article here
James Earl Jones, who has voiced Darth Vader for nearly half a century in the literally out-of-this-world Star Wars film franchise, is scheduled to step away from the role.
The Star Wars saga reportedly has an estimated total value of US$70 billion and currently ranks fifth as the highest-grossing franchise of all time.
According to Vanity Fair, the 91-year-old legendary actor has signed off on archival voice recordings being used by young filmmakers, who plan to utilize artificial intelligence synthetic speech technology to recreate Jones’ younger voice from his previous films for future Lucasfilm projects.
The company has enlisted the assistance of Respeecher, a Ukrainian startup that utilizes AI technology to create new conversations from revitalized old voice recordings. Respeecher’s relationship with Lucasfilm began with the Disney+ series “The Book of Boba Fett,” for which they recreated the voice of young Luke Skywalker. The two also teamed for the voice performance of Darth Vader on the series “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which debuted on Disney’s streamer this summer.
Following the debut of “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Jones’ family informed Wood that they were pleased with the result of the synthesis between the actor’s voice and Respeecher’s technical work. Jones is credited for “guiding the performance” of Darth Vader in the Disney+ series, with Wood describing the actor as a “benevolent godfather.”
Jones first voiced the famed film villain in the original 1977 “Star Wars,” while David Prowse appeared on-screen in the notorious black mask. Jones voiced the character on both the big and small screen up until this point.
James Earl Jones was paid seven thousand dollars for his 1977 voiceover and the rest is Hollywood history.
Speaking of Star Wars creator George Lucas, Jones told the American Film Institute, “George wanted, pardon the expression, a dark voice. So he hires a guy born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, who stutters. And that’s the voice. That’s me,” Jones said. “I lucked out, from all these so-called handicaps, for a job that paid $7,000! And I thought that was good money. And I got to be a voice on a movie.”
With Jones embodying so many characters over the years, not least among them the unforgettable King Jaffe Joffer, he has cemented himself as a titan in broadway and cinematic history. By virtue of modern technology, not only will his spirit live forever, but now so will his voice.