After 40 plus years of providing the voice for one of pop culture's most famous villains, James Earl Jones is ready to retire – and let an AI take over.
Now, at 91, Vanity Fair says the actor "signed off on using his archival voice recordings to keep Vader alive and vital even by artificial means."
Jones voiced Darth Vader in the first Star Wars film back in 1977, and would go on to lend his voice to The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One, The Rise of Skywalker, and even the Star Tours ride at Walt Disney World. The voice we hear in the new Disney Plus series Obi-Wan, however, was generated by AI.
"[Jones] had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” said Matthew Wood, sound editor at Skywalker Sound. “So how do we move forward?”
Lucasfilm worked with Respeecher, a Ukraine-based voice-cloning company, to create Vader's brand new dialogue for Obi-Wan – having previously worked with them to generate the voice of young Luke Skywalker for The Book of Boba Fett. Jones was fully involved in the process, acting as what Wood referred to as a "Benevolent godfather." After Obi-Wan aired, Jones' family reportedly told Wood that they were happy with his work.
The latest Star Wars spin-off, Andor is currently streaming on Disney Plus, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday. In the meantime, check out our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows for everything else coming soon from the galaxy far, far away.