James Earl Jones steps away from Darth Vader after 40 years in the role

James Earl Jones steps away from Darth Vader after 40 years in the role

The actor has agreed for Lucasfilm to use AI software to recreate his voice for future Star Wars projects

ALTHOUGH he was physically embodied by actor David Prowse and was portrayed as a young man by Hayden Christensen, the character of Darth Vader – one of the most iconic in pop culture history – would not have the legacy it has if not for the deep baritone voice of James Earl Jones.

Now, after more than 40 years in the role, beginning with 1977’s original film – and most recently heard in Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi – the 91-year-old Jones is retiring from the character.

According to Vanity Fair, Jones has signed off on archival voice recordings being used by filmmakers, who plan to use artificial intelligence (AI) synthetic speech technology to recreate a younger version of his voice from previous films for future Lucasfilm projects.

After all, the character has appeared plenty of times recently, including in 2016’s Rogue One, though attentive listeners could tell that the voice sounded different, likely because people’s voices do change slightly as they age.

“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Matthew Wood, a Lucasfilm veteran of 32 years, told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”

They will be using the program called Respeecher, from a Ukrainian startup, that uses AI to create new conversations using samples from old voice recordings of which Lucasfilm is likely to have troves of.

Respeecher was most recently used in this year’s Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, where it was used to recreate the voice of a young Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill, the actor who played Skywalker is himself now 71-years-old.

It was also used on Obi-Wan Kenobi, where Vader had a significant role as the series’ antagonist.

After that show’s debut, Jones’ family told the producers at Lucasfilm that they were happy with the results of the AI technology. Jones is credited for ‘guiding the performance’ of Darth Vader in the Disney+ series.

If this is indeed the end for Jones, he leaves behind a voice that will forever be etched in film history.

source – The Vibes


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