The legendary actor James Earl Jones has decided to step away from being the voice of Darth Vader and granted permission for an AI firm to use archived files for future projects.
According to a report, the 91-year-old actor apparently made the decision to no longer actively voice the villain that he has become synonymous with. Jones felt the inclination to step back while recording for his brief vocal cameo in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker.
“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Matthew Wood, a 32-year veteran with Lucasfilm and Skywalker Sound said to Vanity Fair in an interview. “So how do we move forward?”
The answer came in the form of a startup, Respeecher. The firm which is based in Ukraine specializes in creating new conversations from archived voice recordings that have been revitalized. Their method involves the usage of A.I. algorithms, and they’ve been highly successful in refining the vocal performance that Jones has been best known for since the first movie in the franchise, A New Hope in 1977. The current invasion of the country by Russia began on Feb. 24 – just as one of Respeecher’s technicians successfully delivered new recordings to Skywalker Sound.
The actor gave the okay to Disney and Lucasfilm to use his archived recordings going forward. Fans recently heard Jones’ voice as the Sith Lord in the recent Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Representatives for Jones didn’t respond to press inquiries on if this was a permanent decision to step down.
Jones was recently honored earlier in March as the 110-year-old Cort Theater in Times Square was set to be renamed in his honor. The actor expressed his gratitude in a statement shared through the Shubert Foundation: “For me standing in this very building 64 years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today. Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors.”
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