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Star Wars Fans Got Some Bad News About James Earl Jones' Future As Darth Vader

Since 1977, James Earl Jones' voice has been a beloved and equally menacing staple in the galaxy far, far away through his iconic performances as Darth Vader. But playing a towering Sith Lord can be tough work for a 91-year-old, who as a result, is reportedly having to make a drastic change to his "Star Wars" work schedule. 

Back in June 2022, "Obi-Wan Kenobi" fans were losing their minds over Jones' return as Vader in the Disney+ series following a three-year-absence. Jones had last voiced the legendary villain in 2019's "Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker" and 2016's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" before that. He's only made a few other appearances in unrelated Hollywood projects in recent years, like "Coming 2 America" in 2021 and the voice of Mufasa in Disney's 2019 "The Lion King" remake (via IMDb). But as Jones' career steadily winds down, so does the window of opportunity for Lucasfilm and the future of Vader's widely-recognized windpipes. 

"He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character," said sound editor Matthew Wood in a new interview with Vanity Fair. "So how do we move forward?" Well, the Mickey Mouse company apparently has a plan ...

James Earl Jones' iconic Vader voice to live on artificially through AI program

According to Vanity Fair, James Earl Jones is no longer participating in "Star Wars" projects or playing Darth Vader in any way. Instead, the actor's infamous voice has been living on through an artificial intelligence program that's designed to recreate and deliver new lines of Vader dialogue while Jones kicks back in the comfort of his own home. In fact, this is exactly what Disney managed to do for Jones' return in "Obi-Wan Kenobi," per Vanity Fair. 

"For a character such as Darth Vader, who might have 50 lines on a show, I might have a back-and-forth of almost over 10,000 files," explained editor Matthew Wood. The Ukrainian start-up behind the Vader AI program, Respeecher, reportedly went to Jones for advice and guidance on the Vader lines being conjured up for "Obi-Wan," with Wood describing him as "a benevolent grandfather." 

"I'm simply special effects," Jones humbly said about his role in "Star Wars" history, while speaking to the American Film Institute. "I lucked out," the legend added.