James Earl Jones – one of the most distinctive voices in the history of film – appears to have made steps to step back from voicing the Star Wars character, Darth Vader, after nearly 40 years in the role.
Vanity Fair reports that the actor, aged 91, has signed over the rights to his voice to filmmakers using new AI, technology, Matthew Wood of Lucasfilm told the magazine that the actor “wished to keep Vader alive”
“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”
Earl Jones made his debut as the legendary Star Wars villain in the 1977 film, and followed this up with voicing the same character throughout the franchise up to this point on both the big and small screen. He most recently starred as the character for the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+.
While actor David Prowse dressed in the distinctive black uniform of the Sith Lord for the original films, it was Earl Jones who provided the unique deep tones of the complex Vader.
Besides his work on the sci-fi epic, Earl Jones is a celebrated EGOT. He received an honorary Academy Award in 2011, having been nominated for Best Actor in the 1970 The Great White Hope.
Other stars from the original trilogy have made a return to the franchise in recent years. Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and Mark Hamill have all reprised their characters, much to the delight of fans. But it seems one of the most distinctive actors of all is finally signing off.