James Earl Jones steps back from voicing Darth Vader in Star Wars series

Darth Vader
Darth Vader Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

James Earl Jones' most impressive run as Darth Vader is coming to an end.

The legendary actor is stepping back from his voice role as Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise after more than 40 years, according to Vanity Fair.

Vader most recently appeared earlier this year in the Disney+ series Obi-Wan KenobiBut rather than the 91-year-old actor stepping back into the recording studio, Lucasfilm worked with a company called Respeecher, which used artificial intelligence and archival recordings to create the Vader voice digitally.

Lucasfilm supervising sound editor Matthew Wood confirmed to Vanity Fair that the studio partnered with Respeecher for Obi-Wan Kenobi because Jones "mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character." But Wood added that Jones signed off on this process and served as a kind of "benevolent godfather," overseeing the Obi-Wan Kenobi performance.


Jones most recently recorded new Vader dialogue for 2019's The Rise of Skywalker after voicing the character since the original 1977 movie. In recent years, he also voiced Vader in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the animated series Star Wars Rebels.

Lucasfilm previously worked with Respeecher to create a synthesized voice for Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, which also made use of advanced de-aging and deepfake technology to generate a young version of the character.

"Something people didn't realize is [Luke's] voice isn't real," The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau revealed in a making-of documentary, adding that the technology used in the show "will get to a point where you can't tell them apart."

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