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James Earl Jones Didn't Make As Much As You Think For Voicing Darth Vader

It's fair to say that "Star Wars" is one of the biggest franchises in the world. At the heart of the ever-expanding universe is the Skywalker saga, which first kicked off in 1977 with "A New Hope," and recently wrapped up with 2019's "The Rise of Skywalker." While the core narrative draw has come to its end, the franchise, which has been around for over four decades, shows no signs of stopping. Currently, there are countless video games, films, and television series in development. Lucasfilm most recently released the second trailer for Disney+'s "Obi-Wan Kenobi," a prequel series set before the events of "A New Hope."

The series will see Obi-Wan Kenobi in full-hermit mode, watching over a young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. Along the way, the Jedi master will face off against the Empire and go toe-to-toe with his former apprentice turned nemesis: Darth Vader. The evil, black-suited cyborg has been at the heart of the franchise, appearing in both the original and prequel trilogies as Vader and Anakin Skywalker, respectively.

Widely considered one of the greatest villains of all time, Darth Vader's towering demeanor pales in comparison to his terrifying voice, which was memorably supplied by James Earl Jones. Seeing as Vader has gone down as one of the most memorable characters in all of pop culture, "Star Wars" fans will be surprised to hear how much the voice actor made in his debut appearance.

James Earl Jones cashed in $7,000 for voicing Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope

When it came to casting the man in Darth Vader's suit, director George Lucas opted for English bodybuilder David Prowse. But Lucas didn't find Prowse's voice daunting enough, so he opted to cast James Earl Jones as the voice of Vader. Prior to voicing the evil Sith Lord, Jones had appeared in "Dr. Strangelove," "The Comedians," and "The Great White Hope," for which he received an Oscar nomination (via IMDB).

In an interview with the American Film Institute (via The Hollywood Reporter), Jones revealed why Lucas, fresh off of directing "American Graffiti," decided Prowse's voice wasn't up to snuff. "George wanted, pardon the expression, a dark voice. So he hires a guy born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, who stutters. And that's the voice. That's me," Jones told the outlet.

And how much was Jones' compensation for voicing the character? "I lucked out, from all these so-called handicaps, for a job that paid $7,000!" Jones continued, discussing how, at the time, the remuneration was viable, "And I thought that was good money. And I got to be a voice on a movie." Seeing as "A New Hope" has gone on to gross over $700 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), fans might be surprised to read that Jones only nabbed four figures for the role. When adjusted for inflation, Jones' debut "Star Wars" salary is just over $33,000 as of this writing. After "A New Hope" proved to be a success, Jones returned to the role several times.

It remains to be seen if the iconic actor will return to voice Darth Vader in "Obi-Wan Kenobi," which begins streaming on May 27, 2022, on Disney+.