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Star Wars: More Actors Have Voiced Darth Vader Than You Likely Realized

When discussing fiction's most threatening villains, it's impossible to deny the impact that Darth Vader has had on pop culture. The Sith Lord debuted in 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope" and quickly became a fixture of the franchise. He continues to persist in popularity nearly five decades after his debut, consistently appearing in the series' offerings outside of the mainline Skywalker saga. Each cinematic version of Darth Vader, from the original trilogy to 2016's "Rogue One," has been voiced by James Earl Jones. The actor has become synonymous with the Dark Lord, and it's difficult to imagine anyone else inhabiting the role.

To this day, whenever it comes to Darth Vader's canonical appearances, there's a strong chance that Jones is voicing the character. However, as "Star Wars" continues to expand, especially in television and video games, a number of other voice actors have been brought on board to tackle the terrifying villain. Most recently, the character was voiced by Scott Lawrence in the 2023 video game "Star Wars Jedi: Survivor," which serves as a sequel to the 2019 hit "Fallen Order." And if you're hearing the character in various "Star Wars" television or LEGO-centric projects, you're listening to Matt Sloan.

But while Jones, Lawrence, and Sloan are the main three contemporary voices behind Darth Vader, there are a number of other actors who have stepped into the shoes of the nefarious villain.

James Earl Jones is the main voice behind Vader

James Earl Jones has voiced Darth Vader a number of times, notably in the character's most crucial appearances. In addition to voicing the villain for all of his cinematic appearances, Jones returned as Lord Vader for the theme park attraction "Star Tours – The Adventures Continue," which is currently located in a number of Disney parks. Jones also popped up in "Star Wars: Rebels" as Darth Vader for five episodes. But "Rebels" seems to be the exception and not the rule, as Jones has not voiced most of Vader's other small-screen outings, likely because the Sith Lord typically doesn't show up in the franchise's television programs. Vader does, however, appear in a number of LEGO "Star Wars" specials, which is where Matt Sloan usually takes over. Remember the "Star Wars"-focused episode of "Phineas and Ferb"? Vader is voiced by Eddie Pittman, who also serves as an artist on the animated Disney series. To date, that's Pittman's only stint as the nefarious villain.

In the video game world, a number of actors have voiced Vader. These days, the character is mostly played by Scott Lawrence, though Sloan held onto the gig before him. Sloan has played the character in several video games outside the LEGO-sphere, most notably in 2010's "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed." Voice actors like Tom Kane, Clint Bajakian, and others have also stepped into the Skywalker clan member's shoes over the years for various video games.

As the "Star Wars" franchise continues to expand, whether on the small or big screen or in video games, Vader will continue to be a key part of the franchise. However, a development from 2022 might just confirm who'll voice Vader going forward — for good.

James Earl Jones' will live on as Darth Vader through AI

2022 saw the release of "Obi-Wan Kenobi," the long-awaited television series that details the exploits of Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope." Originally planned as a major motion picture, "Kenobi" debuted on Disney+ to mostly positive reviews and featured several interesting narrative beats, filling in crucial gaps related to the Jedi master's time on Tatooine. Perhaps one of the most consequential happenings is Kenobi's damning encounter with Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen). Unlike his appearance in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Vader has more than a cameo in the series, operating instead in a supporting role.

But while the former Jedi-turned-Sith sounds just like James Earl Jones in the series, audiences aren't actually hearing the voice actor. A story from Vanity Fair confirms that Jones, 91 at the time, allowed Lucasfilm to utilize archival audio to recreate Vader's voice using artificial intelligence. "Obi-Wan Kenobi" functioned as the first "Star Wars" project to feature the recreated voice of Vader.

This also means that Jones has officially retired from the role of Darth Vader. Going forward, one can expect that all cinematic and canonical versions of the villain will likely be voiced using archival audio and artificial intelligence. However, it remains to be seen if Jones' recreated soundbites will become the go-to voice for Darth Vader in other mediums, such as animated television shows or video games. But seeing as how Jones has already signed off on Lucasfilm's request to recreate his voice, it might be interesting to have all iterations of the character, going forward, sound the same.