The voice of the iconic “Star Wars” character Darth Vader, James Earl Jones, is giving up the role. He has signed over the rights to his voice to filmmakers for future use. No details of the deal have been made public.
Best known today for his voice acting, Jones, 91, will no longer be the voice behind space sci-fi’s most memorable villain. Jones has signed off on allowing archival voice recordings of him to be used by filmmakers in a process in which artificial intelligence synthetic speech technology will recreate Jones’ younger Darth Vader voice for future “Star Wars” projects, Vanity Fair reports.
With the assistance of this technology Disney will be able to use Jones’ old recordings to create new dialogue featuring his voice.
Jones, whose net worth is estimated to be at $40 million, was last featured in “The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019.
The Voice of Darth Vader
Jones first voiced the Darth Vader character for the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” film in 1977. Actor David Prowse, however, appeared on-screen in the famous black mask. He has voiced the character ever since. He also starred as the character for Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series, which premiered May 27, 2022.
The Money Behind the Voice
During a 2009 interview with the American Film Institute, Jones revealed he was hesitant about the potential of “Star Wars” and instead of taking an offered percentage of the film’s gross earnings, he decided to accept an up-front cash payment for his voice role. It took him just a couple of hours in the studio recording his lines, and for it, he was paid a total of $7,000. “I thought that was good money. And I got to be a voice on a movie,” he later recalled. The movie went on the be the year’s largest grossing film, raking in $195 million. Since then, the film has ultimately grossed a whopping $775 million.
Throughout his career, Jones, who has acted on stage, TV, and in film, has won numerous awards, including three Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and an Emmy Award, making him one Oscar short of being an EGOT.
Earlier this month, the Cort Theatre on Broadway was renamed The James Earl Jones Theatre.