James Earl Jones signs over Darth Vader voice rights

Last Updated on August 3, 2023

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, duel, Disney+, Star Wars

One of the most iconic voices in film history belongs to James Earl Jones. Now 91 years young, the legendary actor seems to be taking steps towards winding down his career. But, wanting his most famous character, Darth Vader, to live on, Jones has signed over the rights to his voice to A.I. company Respeecher – based in Ukraine – to keep the character alive even if he were to pass on. The info was revealed in a recent Vanity Fair story, which revealed that Respeecher was responsible for creating Vader’s dialogue in the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series. In the article, it was revealed that the last time Jones himself recorded dialogue for the role was in a brief bit in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

During these sessions, Jones, according to Lucasfilm’s Matthew Wood, inquired about a possible way forward for the character were he no longer able to voice it.

While Jones has yet to announce his retirement officially, it does appear that Jones is keen for the character to keep his distinctive voice, even if he were to pass away. Given the state of technology, it seems that Vader could easily keep Jones’ voice for as long as they continue with the character, which should be a relief to Star Wars fans. Can anyone imagine a world where Darth Vader doesn’t sound like James Earl Jones? It just can’t happen.

While the issue of A.I. replacing actors is tricky (can A.I. deliver a “performance”), as technology improves, this may become more commonplace. Given that Jones is still alive to give Lucasfilm his blessing, this seems much less ghoulish than the news from a few years ago that indie filmmakers were going to cast a CGI James Dean in a new movie. Thankfully, no one’s recently heard much about that project, so hopefully, it doesn’t go forward.

What do you think? Should A.I. be used to replace Jones’ voice as Darth Vader? Is this a slippery slope? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.