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James Earl Jones Steps Back From Darth Vader Role, Signs Over Voice Rights To Lucasfilm

September 24, 2022 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Obi-Wan Kenobi Darth Vader Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Vanity Fair reports that James Earl Jones recently stepped back as the voice of Star Wars villain Darth Vader and signed over his voice rights. This ends over forty years of voicing one of the most iconic villains in cinema history.

The last time Jones provided a voice for the role was 2019’s Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. However, Darth Vader has appeared since, with Jones’ voice, in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Jones recently signed his voice rights to Lucasfilm and Respeecher, an AI audio company in the Ukraine. This has led to speculation that Respeecher actually put together his voice for the appearances after 2019.

Lucasfilm’s Matthew Wood noted: “He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character.

Wood then presented Jones with an example of Respeecher’s work and he approved of using his archival recordings to keep Vader around without recasting the role. Jones was credited for “guiding” the appearance in Obi-Wan and Wood says that he is like “a benevolent godfather.” Lucasfilm tells Jones about their plans for Vader and listens to him on how to make it sound like the Sith Lord. When it comes to putting together an AI-simulated voice, it’s complicated.

Wood added: “For a character such as Darth Vader, who might have 50 lines on a show, I might have a back-and-forth of almost over 10,000 files.

Jones, 91, has yet to publicly announce his retirement from the character, but it seems Darth Vader will live on regardless.

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James Earl Jones, Joseph Lee