Star Wars: Why James Earl Jones has retired as the voice of Darth Vader

He will always be Luke’s father, but is James Earl Jones retiring from one of his legendary roles?
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

News has emerged from the Star Wars universe that the iconic voice of Darth Vader may have retired from the role ahead of the future of the franchise.

In an article reported by Vanity Fair, they mentioned within their piece on synthetic-speech artist Bogdan Belyaev, he had to step in to recreate the voice of Darth Vader in the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

It has led to numerous media outlets reporting that James Earl Jones has effectively retired from his voice role as one of cinema’s most beloved anti-heroes.

The actor, 91 years of age, has voiced the character since the very beginning of the Star Wars universe in 1977, sharing the role with actor David Prowse who played the physical embodiment of Darth Vader.

His distinctive, easily recognizable voice has been cast in some of pop culture’s legendary roles, from Disney to The Simpsons and even voicing adverts for news networks CNN in the 90s.

Why has James Earl Jones retired as Darth Vader’s voice?

Vanity Fair published a piece on the Ukrainian start-up Respeecher, who specialise in using archival recordings and a proprietary A.I. algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago.

Within the article, they discussed the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series and Respeecher’s task of making Darth Vader sound like James Earl Jones’ character from 45 years ago, saying: “Now that Jones’s voice has altered with age and he has stepped back from the role.”

The article continued: “...when (Belyaev) ultimately presented Jones with Respeecher’s work, the actor signed off on using his archival voice recordings to keep Vader alive and vital even by artificial means.”

Though the responsibility of Darth Vader’s voice now rests with Lucasfilm and Respeecher, James Earl Jones will remain a consultant for the character he has portrayed for 45 years.

Who is James Earl Jones?

Aside from voicing Darth Vader, James Earl Jones has voiced Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion KingAside from voicing Darth Vader, James Earl Jones has voiced Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King
Aside from voicing Darth Vader, James Earl Jones has voiced Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King

Possibly the second most famous character Jones is associated with is Mufasa; voicing Simba’s father throughout Disney’s The Lion King series.

Away from his voice acting roles though, Jones’ lengthy career has seen him appear in a number of films that have devoted fandoms.

He played the villain Thulsa Doom in Conan The Barbarian, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982 and Eddie Murphy’s royal father King Jaffe Joffer in Coming To America and its recent sequel, Coming 2 America.

He is also one of the few people to have earned the EGOT; a performer who has won an Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Oscar and a Tony Award, completing the feat in 1991.

Where can I watch the Star Wars saga?

With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the entire Star Wars saga including current and forthcoming shows within its universe can be viewed on Disney+ with a subscription.

You can also watch The Lion King through the service once you’ve done with Anakin Skywalker too.

How do I sign up to Disney+?

A Disney+ subscription costs £7.99 a month. Alternatively, save 16%* with the annual subscription at £79.90 a year and get 12 months for the price of 10. You can sign up now by visiting the Disney+ website.

You can also purchase a Disney+ annual subscription for someone else as a gift.

Disney+ supports mobile devices, web browsers, game consoles, set-top boxes, and smart TVs.

There are no commitments and you can cancel at any time, effective at the end of a current payment period.

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.