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James Earl Jones "Steps Back" As Darth Vader's Voice, As AI Takes Over The Role

James Earl Jones has signed away his voice likeness to make sure he's Darth Vader forever.


James Earl Jones is one of the most recognizable voices in Hollywood and gave life to the most iconic cinematic villain, Darth Vader for 45 years, providing the cyborg sorcerer with his menacing, baritone delivery. In the Disney+ series, Jones is credited as the voice of Darth Vader, but it was partially assisted with some serious technical wizardry.

Respeecher, is an AI program that uses archival recordings and a proprietary algorithm to create brand new dialogue from the voices of performers of long ago. The company behind the technology recently worked with Lucasfilm on the Obi-Wan series for Disney+ to generate the voice of a younger James Earl Jones to give the character his trademark voice. They used similar tactics for Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett.

Jones, 91, signed off on using his voice recordings to keep his Vader going forever. There's something apt about preserving his existence via technology for decades to come. His last in-person, albeit very brief, recording was for 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Since then, he's officially "stepped back" from maybe his most legendary role.

"We create places to work for people, we create jobs, we pay them money, we contribute to the Ukrainian economy, and that’s quite meaningful," Respeecher CEO and Co-Founder Alex Serdiuk said (via Variety). "But also, hopefully, more people will hear about Ukraine--about our tech community, about our start-up--because of it."

Jones is synonymous with Vader's voice, but on the rare occurrence, voice actors Scott Lawrence or Matt Sloan stood in for multiple video games. Actor Brock Peters was brought on for the role in the Star Wars 1981 radio drama. It's interesting to note that this is hardly the first time AI has been used for the voices of those that have passed away. Last year's Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain featured the voice of the late chef, writer, and host who committed suicide in 2018. Director Morgan Neville compiled audio samplings of Bourdain's narration from across his appearances on TV, audiobooks, podcasts, and radio to have him speak in the movie.

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