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Who Will Voice Star Wars' Darth Vader After James Earl Jones' Retirement?

Where would "Star Wars" be today without the iconic voice of James Earl Jones as the villainous Darth Vader

According to Far Out Magazine, Jones originally went uncredited in the role of Vader for the first two "Star Wars" movies, "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back." At the time, he felt he didn't want to overshadow David Prowse, the actor who actually put on the black mask and life support suit. In fact, Prowse was told during filming that his lines would be overdubbed in post-production, but Lucas failed to mention that the dubbing would be done by a different actor. By the time of the third film, "Return of the Jedi," Jones' booming voice was so recognizable that he saw no point in hiding his name anymore, and so his credit emerged out into the light.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, "Star Wars" sound editor Matthew Wood mentioned that Jones, who last performed the role in 2019's "Rise of Skywalker," was "looking into winding down this particular character." At 91 years old, who could blame him for wanting to retire from playing the famous villain? But the Star Wars universe is more active than ever, meaning someone will have to voice Darth Vader, but who?

Vader will be voiced by an AI

The simple answer is that nobody will be voicing Vader going forward, but the full answer is a little more complicated. According to the same Vanity Fair article, Ukrainian start-up Respeecher was tasked with recreating the voice of Darth Vader for the Disney+ "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series. The location of the start-up has created some problems for Disney and Lucasfilm, however. Respeecher employees are basically working in the middle of an active war zone. Amazingly, they managed to pull off — not just Vader's voice — but also a young Luke Skywalker as seen in "The Book of Boba Fett." Upon hearing the results of Respeecher's work, Jones signed off on the process going forward and officially bowed out.

On the IMDb page for "Obi-Wan Kenobi," James Earl Jones is still listed as the voice actor for Darth Vader, which is most likely due to the recordings being based on the actor's early recordings for Vader. So the AI voice certainly solves a problem for the production team, and will allow Jones to enjoy his retirement from the role.