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The 50 Best James Earl Jones Movies Ranked Worst To Best

A veteran of stage and screen, actor James Earl Jones' career spans seven decades. After getting his start on Broadway, some of his earliest film roles were adapted from award-winning plays, including one where he reprised his own role, bringing "The Great White Hope" from stage to screen. Though today he may be best known for his deep, resonant voice, having brought life roles like Darth Vader and Mufasa, for decades he was Hollywood's go-to actor for kind, gentle, wise men in key supporting roles.

He was also one of Hollywood's busiest working actors, appearing on screens big and small, in everything from big-budget blockbusters to made-for-TV movies airing on the Hallmark Channel. Some of his best films, no matter their size or budget, often explored serious dramatic themes of racism, bigotry, and intolerance, with life lessons to be drawn from heartfelt stories that saw characters triumphing over adversity.

In his many years on the screen, James Earl Jones has done it all: comedies, dramas, thrillers, science fiction, children's movies, and even exploitation films. From his biggest franchise roles to his smallest indie dramas, these are James Earl Jones' best.

50. Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

A surprisingly heartfelt family comedy from Martin Lawrence, "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins" features James Earl Jones as the family patriarch Papa Jenkins, father to the titular R.J. (Lawrence). Roscoe is a Hollywood star, a celebrity psychiatrist with a hit TV show, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have his own problems. Engaged to a contestant on TV reality show, he heads back home to visit his small town family deep in the heart of Georgia, on the eve of his parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

But there will be no respite, as fiancée Bianca thinks his family reunion would be the perfect basis for an episode of his show. The reunion is more awkward than awe-inspiring, as he has to find a way to get along with his eccentric family, and we learn that his life philosophy was clearly shaped by his early family life. Back home, he learns a new way of dealing with problems.

An all-star cast led by Lawrence and Jones also includes Michael Clarke Duncan, Omar Epps, Mo'Nique, Louis C.K., and Cedric the Entertainer.

49. On The Q.T.

1999's "On the QT" is one of many television movies in Jones' career, set in the subways of New York City. Sam Bell ("13 Going On 30") stars as Jari, a young dock laborer from Michigan who plays the violin and aspires to one day perform in grand concert halls. He leaves home with dreams of finding stardom in the Big Apple, and hopes of getting accepted into a prestigious musical academy. But it's not long before he becomes frustrated with life in New York, where instead of being up on a big stage in front of throngs of adoring fans and critics, he's relegated to playing his violin for spare change in the city's underground.

But while eking out a living along the tracks, Jari meets an older, wiser musician named Leo (Jones) who takes him under his wing. Leo introduces him to the greater world of musical art and culture in the city, invigorating his passion for life, and whose inspiration drives him even further. But when he meets a successful singer who may be his gateway to a lucrative career in show business, he's torn between the inspiring and creative world below, and the hum-drum but financially secure world above.

48. Alone

A busy year for James Earl Jones, 1997 saw the veteran actor appear on a number of hit TV shows like "Frasier" and "Stargate SG-1," but he also starred in a few movies as well. On television, he led the film "Alone," alongside Hume Cronyn ("Brewster's Millions") and Ed Begley Jr. ("Young Sheldon"). In the film, Cronyn plays John Webb, who is living a solitary life alone on a farm he used to own with his brother following the death of his wife. James Earl Jones is a man named Grey, the farm's caretaker and Webb's only real companion.

Webb has little contact with his family, but he gets a surprise visit from a pair of nephews with an upsetting proposal: Carl and Gus (Frederic Forrest and Chris Cooper) want to sell the land to oil tycoons who are looking to drill for black gold on the property. While John has no interest, his greedy family is dead set on convincing him to move on from his family's only legacy. But with money running out, he may not have much choice in the matter.

47. Deadly Hero

The 1975 thriller "Deadly Hero" stars Don Murray ("Peggy Sue Got Married") as Lacy, an NYPD officer who's been busted down to a city beat cop for his abusive and racist behavior. On one fateful call, Lacy arrives to discover a young woman named Sally being held at knife point by Rabbit (James Earl Jones), a mugger at the end of his rope. But even after Rabbit gives himself up and releases his hostage — seemingly repentant for what he's done — Lacy shoots and kills him in cold blood. 

Knowing this could be the end of his career, Lacy convinces the woman to tell the press that he'd heroically saved her life in a deadly armed conflict. But when a mayoral hopeful uses Lacy's tale in his campaign and Sally begins to have second thoughts, the embattled officer must make sure that she sticks to her story. A low-rent neo-noir drama, "Deadly Force" may not have a lot of screen time to offer James Earl Jones, but Rabbit's crucial role in sparking the story's conflict makes it a memorable performance.

46. Confessions: Two Faces Of Evil

In the 1994 film "Confessions: Two Faces of Evil" James Earl Jones stars as Charles Lloyd, a determined lawyer called in to defend a young college student named Bill (Jason Bateman, "Ozark") who has turned himself in and confessed to the Christmas Eve killing of a police officer. An otherwise upstanding citizen with a clean record, his confession is complicated by the fact that another man named Robert Paul Berndt (James Wilder) has also confessed to the murder, and his statement seems equally credible. 

But Berndt proves himself a deranged criminal, and when he recants his confession and Bill insists he's guilty, a special investigator must probe both potential killers and get to the truth. But with no witnesses and little forensic evidence, the two conflicting testimonies make it an uphill battle for investigators and lawyer Lloyd. With a dangerous man now claiming innocence and a good kid confessing to the murder of a cop, questions also arise about the nature of justice. 

45. The Ambulance

From Larry Cohen, the director of the underrated blaxploitation gangster film "Black Caesar," comes the wickedly funny horror thriller "The Ambulance," starring James Earl Jones, Eric Roberts, Megan Gallagher, and Red Buttons. The film tells the story of a Marvel Comics artist named Josh Baker (Roberts) who gets involved in an investigation into a series of kidnappings around New York City. After his ailing girlfriend is picked up by an ambulance and promptly goes missing, he's determined to get to the truth, because no one else seems to be able to help. 

James Earl Jones stars in the film as grizzled police lieutenant Frank Spencer, who's on the case and has no time for Baker's wild theories about an ambulance that kidnaps women. But together with intrepid officer Mallory (Gallagher), he realizes that the young superhero artist may just be on to something. A mind-bendingly bizarre joyride, "The Ambulance" is one of Jones' most unique movies. It also happens to feature Marvel legend Stan Lee's very first feature film cameo – playing himself of course — making the movie a must-see for comic book fanboys as much as for those who love wild horror movies and James Earl Jones.

44. Lone Star Kid

The 1986 made-for-television movie "Lone Star Kid" recounted the incredible true story of Brian Zimmerman, a boy who at just 11 years old ran for mayor of the unincorporated town of Crabb, Texas (per The Los Angeles Times). It all takes place in the backwater Texas community with a population of just 400 that often feels like a relic of another time, a region left behind by progress. But after watching the death of a resident due to a lack of emergency services, 11-year-old Zimmerman thinks he can do better. He wants to make the town relevant and see its people prosper again, and knows just how to do it.

Setting out to be elected the town's mayor, the 11-year-old is mocked and dismissed as a wide-eyed fanciful dreamer. But with the help of his family, friends, and a wise old man named Holmes (James Earl Jones), he just might make it happen. Directed by renowned filmmaker Ron Howard ("Solo: A Star Wars Story"), the '80s telefilm is a heartfelt story of one boy's courage, determination, and desire to do good.

43. Percy and Thunder

"No matter what games the weasels play outside the ring, what happens inside is pure — that's your edge." That's the sage advice that James Earl Jones gives Courtney B. Vance ("Law and Order") in "Percy and Thunder," where they star as the title characters. Jones is Percy, the former a retired boxing champ, and Vance is a current contender for a major title, whose ringside nickname is "Thunder." 

Thunder is a small town tussler who quickly makes a name for himself and eventually finds the limelight in the big city. But he's ill-equipped for the rampant corruption that greets him: greasy promoters and slimy con-men always looking for an edge and who only want to exploit him. Thunder is soon saved by the grace of grizzled veteran — and his new mentor — Percy. With Percy's wit and wisdom, Thunder may just have a shot at conquering the ring. A strong script and a good cast, which also includes Billy Dee Williams and Robert Wuhl, make it nice little picture, even if it's got some predictable elements we've seen in other, similar movies before.

42. Convicts

Based on a one-act play by Horton Foote (who adapted "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the screen), "Convicts" gives some Hollywood icons some good material to chew on. Robert Duvall ("The Godfather") stars as Soll Gautier, a gruff old sugar cane plantation owner living at the turn of the 20th century. Slavery may be long gone, but the Texas Civil War veteran Guatier has found a workaround, using black convicts to tend to his sugar fields. 

A young Lucas Haas appears in the film as Horace Robedaux, a boy working Guatier's general store in the hopes of earning enough money to afford a tombstone for his dead father. But while working for the old man, Horace gets to know the convicts, including the aging Ben Johnson (James Earl Jones), who help him learn a thing or two about life. Guatier, who is growing older and more senile by the day, doesn't make their lives any easier. As he reflects on his life, he realizes he still has his own lessons to learn.

41. UFO Incident

No, this isn't some cheesy sci-fi B-movie about a monster that lands in the woods and terrorizes a group of teenagers. Instead, the 1979 made-for-TV movie "The UFO Incident" tells the startling true story of Barney (James Earl Jones) and Betty Hill (Estelle Parsons), an ordinary married couple who've apparently had their memories erased following an encounter with an unidentified flying object. But Barney and Betty's lives are thrown upside down when they are both shaken by the traumatic event, which neither of them can seem to recall. 

Plagued by nightmares and haunted by horrific imagery, they decide to seek the aid of a psychiatrist (Barnard Hughes), who helps them dig out their buried memories. Through treatment — and hypnosis — Betty and Barney realize they may have been abducted and experimented on by aliens from outer space. Now the otherwise average couple must fight to come to terms with their other-worldly experience and find a way to live normal lives.

Though it might sound like schlock, "The UFO Incident" takes the Hills' story seriously, with a strong cast that treats it as a sensitive and moving drama as it recounts one of alien folklore's most famous stories (per History). 

40. Swashbuckler

Pirate films may have been long out of style by the late 1970s, but "Swashbuckler" swung into theaters in 1976, starring Robert Shaw, James Earl Jones, Peter Boyle, Genevieve Bujold, and Beau Bridges. Set in 1718, Shaw plays Captain "Red" Ned Lynch, whose band of pirates — including Nick Debrett (Jones) — fight to protect the Jamaican isle from a vicious island despot named Lord Durant (Boyle). They get help in the form of Jane Barnet, a young noblewoman willing to stand up to the tyrant, who is the daughter of the Lord High Justice who'd been imprisoned by Durant.

Make no mistake, "Swashbuckler" was not an attempt to modernize the pirate movie genre — it was a classic picture through and through, a return to old school adventuring. Full of sword-wielding anti-heroes swinging from the rafters, grabbing the girl, and battling dastardly villains; making harrowing escapes and drinking rum while they do it. While this means it often feels like a newer version of old adventure films, it's a great example of the subgenre — in full color, and with James Earl Jones at the center of it, too.

39. Finder's Fee

Before he was one of Hollywood's biggest stars, "Deadpool" actor Ryan Reynolds teamed up with Darth Vader himself for "Finder's Fee," a 2001 drama that also featured Robert Forster ("Jackie Brown"), Matthew Lillard ("Scream"), and Eric Palladino ("ER"). Part mystery, part thriller, part touching character drama, the film follows a young man named Tepper (Palladino) who comes across a lost wallet, only to discover that it happens to contain a winning lottery ticket that's worth 6 million dollars.

But Tepper and his group of friends are hosting a friendly game of poker, and when the owner of the wallet Avery Phillips (James Earl Jones) comes looking for it, a police lockdown keeps them all inside. That's when Avery gets a little surprise: his winning jackpot lotto ticket is now up for grabs in Tepper's poker game, and if he wants it back he's going to have to stay and play to win it all. A surprisingly unpredictable, twist-filled story, "Finder's Fee" will keep you guessing right up until the very end. Variety gave it high marks, calling it a "one act play disguised as a movie." An underrated, under-the-radar film starring a pair of big names, it might be one of Jones' best movies that more people should see.

38. Annihilation of Fish

James Earl Jones and Lynn Redgrave star as Fish and Poinsetta, a pair of aging retirees living in a boarding house in California. Fish is a lonely Jamaican man with nowhere to go, who is battling demons both metaphorically and physically, tormented by an imaginary friend named Hank who just so happens to be a literal demon ... and his only friend. Poinsetta, meanwhile, is a single spinster who has her own visions of an undead companion, the famed composer Puccini, who she believes is also her passionate lover.

Now together in the boarding house, Fish and Poinsetta begin to form an unlikely bond that slowly blossoms into love. But Fish struggles to put Hank aside in order to form a real-life relationship. Poinsetta takes matters into her own hands to solve Fish's demon problems, but it only makes things worse. Now, Fish must find a way to reconcile his new love with his troubled past. A heart-rending drama about two tormented souls who find each other through the darkness, "Annihilation of Fish" sadly received little distribution, and went unseen by most. 

37. Feast of All Saints

Based on the novel by "Interview with the Vampire" author Anne Rice, the 1997 Showtime original movie "Feast of All Saints" was a lavish television production with a massive ensemble cast, including James Earl Jones, Forest Whitaker, Eartha Kitt, Pam Grier, Ossie Davis, Jasmine Guy, and Jennifer Beals. But "Feast of All Saints" is no supernatural gothic horror movie, instead recounting the story of the the gens de couleur libres, otherwise known as the free people of color, a group of people of African descent who came from Europe and who lived free lives in New Orleans prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

The film adaptation focuses on Marcel, a young man borne of the union between a Black woman and a wealthy landowner. Though he lives a life of wealth, privilege, and status thanks to his parentage, his racial background often creates problems for him amidst the nation's boiling racial tensions. James Earl Jones stars as the older Marcel, who narrates the film and is shown in his later years looking back on his troubled youth.

36. Gimme Shelter

James Earl Jones stars alongside Vanessa Hudgens, Brendan Fraser, and Rosario Dawson in the 2013 drama "Gimme Shelter" as Father McCarthy, a priest who comes to counsel a troubled young woman named Apple. Apple (Hudgens) has lived most of her early life in and out of foster homes, and her mother June (Dawson) only sees her as a means to continue her addictions. But when Apple sets out to find her birth father Tom (Fraser), she's shocked to discover that he's actually a wealthy stockbroker. 

Though Apple briefly reconciles and comes to live with her father and his new wife, she's tossed out onto the street when they learn she is unwed and pregnant. But after a chance encounter with the kind and gentle Father McCarthy, Apple goes to live in a group home for pregnant teens. She comes to find a new kind of family among the women she meets there, and must make a hard choice when her father returns to make amends. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

35. A Piece of the Action

The same year that James Earl Jones first voiced the diabolical intergalactic villain Darth Vader, he also starred alongside Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier in the caper comedy "A Piece of the Action." Cosby and Poitier (who also directed) play a pair of lifelong crooks who've gotten away with big scores in daring heists throughout their criminal careers. James Earl Jones stars opposite the two stars as a retired detective named Joshua Burke, who has all the goods on their many past crimes. But to their surprise, Burke isn't looking to put them behind bars. Instead, the former lawman wants their help in running an inner city youth program that works with delinquent youngsters, and offers to stay quiet on their criminal pasts if they'll agree to work at his job-training center.

After some early hilarious hiccups, the two former con men become do-gooders, but when one of their old heists come back to haunt them, everything the three men have built threatens to come crashing down. Though not the funniest film on this list, it's got plenty of heart, and its three stars deliver good comic performances, especially Jones in the role of the well-meaning mentor Burke.

34. Best of the Best

A cult classic '80s action movie, "Best of the Best" stars  Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones, Sally Kirkland, Chris Penn, and Philip Rhee, who also wrote and produced the film. Jones plays Frank Cuozo, a no-nonsense coach and martial arts trainer who is overseeing an American team of fighters preparing for a crucial tournament in South Korea. While Cuozo's tough tactics and training methods have proven successful in the past, assistant coach Catherine Wade preaches a more spiritual approach that she believes could be key to overcoming the challenges they face against the South Korean national team.

It's a time-tested story about a ragtag group of underdogs who fight against long odds, overcoming every obstacle to win the day. James Earl Jones is the driving force of the picture, acting as both ally and a quasi-antagonist to the young martial arts fighters. Though not a big hit, "Best of the Best" still managed to spawn three sequels, all starring Rhee. The absence of James Earl Jones and his iron-fisted coach Cuozo may be one reason the follow-ups failed to deliver anything as memorable as the original.

33. Timepiece

A prequel to the Hallmark holiday classic "The Christmas Box," the 1996 film "Timepiece" is set during World War II. The film tells the story of how Mary, played by future star Naomi Watts, came to be in the possession of the Christmas Box that would become a family heirloom while working at a factory owned by David Parkin (Kevin Kilner). James Earl Jones stars as an old friend of Parkin's, a local clockmaker who faces racism and prejudice when he's accused of murdering the son of one of his customers.

The kind and lovable clockmaker is of course innocent of the crime, but it will take Parkin's help to prove it. That's not the only crisis facing the newly wedded factory owner, who's now raising Mary's son while his daughter is diagnosed with a terrible disease. A story of family, friendship, and forgiveness, "Timepiece" may be a tear-jerking melodrama from Hallmark, but Jones and his fellow castmates Watts, Kilner, and Ellyn Burstyn help elevate the material to become a solid family film.

32. What the Deaf Man Heard

The 1997 Hallmark Hall of Fame television film "What the Deaf Man Heard" was a big event that year, amassing some of the highest ratings for a TV movie in years with at least 36 million eyes on it (per The New York Times). The film told the story of a little boy named Sammy (Frankie Muniz, pre-"Malcom in the Middle"), who finds himself abandoned by his mother in a small town in Georgia in the 1940s. Told by his mother (Bernadette Peters) not to say a word, Sammy attempts to honor that request a little too hard and stays silent for years, with the townspeople coming to believe that he's deaf and mute.

As Sammy grows up (played as an adult by Matthew Modine), he comes to be a valued member of the community. All the while, nobody has any idea that he can hear every word they say. He and he alone knows that the wealthy Tynan is stealing from the church, and he learns every detail of the personal dramas all around him. But small time junk dealer Archie Thacker (James Earl Jones) quickly figures out Sammy's ruse, as he too is hiding his own secrets. An earnest and somewhat saccharine sweet story, "What the Deaf Man Heard" also stars Jerry O'Connell, Tom Skerritt, and Bernadette Peters.

31. By Dawn's Early Light

Based on the book "Trinity's Child," the HBO original movie "By Dawn's Early Light" from 1990 was one of the last products of the Cold War-era fear of a potential third World War sparked by nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union. The movie centers on the President of the United States (Martin Landau) and a handful of his high-ranking military officials. This includes James Earl Jones as a United States Air Force General nicknamed "Alice" who runs the military's airborne command center nicknamed "Looking Glass."

The action begins when a breakaway group within the USSR launches a nuclear attack on the United States, against orders. The Russian leader threatens the U.S. President that if a large scale counter attack is launched against them, it will trigger total Armageddon. With all options on the table, the President and his forces must now determine how to respond. But when a second attack from Russian forces is launched, the President authorizes "Alice" to take command of American military forces and carry out an assault that could end in the annihilation of all mankind. Powers Booth, Rebecca DeMornay, Peter McNichol, Darren McGavin, and Rip Torn round out the stellar cast.

30. Gang Related

Starring Tupac Shakur in his final film role, the 1997 crime drama "Gang Related" wrapped production just days before the rapper's death (per The Seattle Times). The film starred Shakur and James Belushi ("Blues Brothers 2000") as a pair of Los Angeles police officers who murder a drug dealer and steal his stash, netting them a nice off-the-books payday, in a scheme they've pulled off many times before. But when their latest victim is discovered to be a DEA agent under deep cover, the two corrupt cops must find a way to cover their tracks and keep their noses clean. To do it, they'll attempt to frame an innocent man for the murder. 

But their chosen fall guy is a local vagrant named William McCall (Dennis Quaid) who secures the services of Arthur Baylor (James Earl Jones), a tough veteran lawyer who has a feeling something fishy is going on. Shakur — in just his sixth feature film role and seemingly on his way to becoming a screen star before his shocking death — impressed as a dirty cop looking to save his soul, while James Earl Jones' legal strong man is a force that enriches an already compelling story.

29. The Second Civil War

Another TV movie from 1997, the HBO original "The Second Civil War" was a black comedy and satire of America's growing disdain for immigration. Focusing on a potential armed conflict over refugees from Pakistan, it's packed full of social commentary on everything from fanatical nationalism to the greed of the news media. As the president cynically uses immigration for political gains (funneling refugees into districts where he needs more votes), his opponents want to close down borders entirely, despite profiting off of foreign industries.

But a war is nearly sparked when Idaho orders its National Guard to refuse refugees, leading to a tense standoff with the federal government. All the while, a ratings-obsessed cable news network uses the event for its own ends, manipulating public opinion whichever way they desire. It all culminates in a clash between two former Gulf War veterans who command the opposing national and state troops in a second American Civil War. 

Directed by Joe Dante ("Gremlins"), the film is incisively ironic and pointedly political, feeling nothing short of prescient today. James Earl Jones appears as a part of the fictional news team, alongside James Coburn, Denis Leary, Ron Perlman, and Phil Hartman as the President of the United States.

28. Gardens of Stone

A 1987 anti-war film from celebrated director Francis Ford Coppola ("Apocalypse Now"), "Gardens of Stone" stars James Caan as U.S. Army sergeant Clell Hazard. In the middle of the Vietnam War, the embittered officer wants to train new recruits at a school in Fort Benning, but is disappointed when he's ordered instead to be a guardsman at Arlington National Cemetery. But while there, he meets a young soldier named Jackie Willow (D.B. Sweeney), and uses the opportunity to school him on the futility of Vietnam. 

With the help of longtime friend and military mentor Sergeant Major "Goody" Nelson (James Earl Jones), Hazard hopes to prepare the bright-eyed and patriotic Willow on what awaits him after his deployment. But after the young Willow arrives to fight in the nation's endless conflict, Hazard finds himself spurred to action for his own reasons. 

Ultimately a movie that explores American attitudes toward the war, it can't quite match Coppola's other Vietnam masterpiece. Roger Ebert wrote, "'Gardens of Life' is satisfied to be a slice of life, a story that says some of our best young people went to Vietnam and died there." Alongside Caan and Jones, the film also stars Anjelica Huston, Laurence Fishburne, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Dean Stockwell.

27. Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault

While many believe that Muhammad Ali helped coin the term GOAT, an acronym meaning the "Greatest of All Time" (via Boston.com), one-time street hoopster Earl Manigault may take umbrage with that claim. Back in the late 1950s, Manigault was a promising basketball phenom nicknamed "The Goat" thanks to his unusual surname, which many believe lead to the backronym "the Greatest Of All Time" long before Ali coined the term for himself. 

Whatever the case, Manigault's life was dramatized in the 1996 HBO movie "The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault," with Don Cheadle as the aspiring young athlete. It chronicles the early days of the young star as he becomes a celebrity in Harlem for his skills on the court, but is drawn into a life of sex and drugs that threatens to derail his big league hopes.

Once pushed to a prep school in South Carolina by local basketball guru Holcolm Rucker (Forest Whitaker), Manigault meets school headmaster and mentor Dr. McDuffie (James Earl Jones), who helps straighten the young man out and reorganize his priorities. But struggles at home endanger his future and threaten to tear down all of his future potential. Clarence Williams III, Ronny Cox, Loretta Devine, and Eric LaSalle (who also directed) co-star.

26. The Lion King (2019)

With a run of hit live-action remakes of animated classics, Disney made the controversial decision to create a new version of "The Lion King." Brilliant and breathtaking in its visual splendor, the film wasn't without its fair share of critics, who lambasted the movie as a remake nobody asked for. The fact that the 1994 original was still wildly popular, and the return of James Earl Jones — who reprised his role as Mufasa — further added to the questionable nature of the do-over. With fully CGI main characters, many wondered if it actually qualified as live action, as well.

Still, the movie was a smash hit in theaters, earning over a billion dollars globally, and helping to refresh the classic story with awe-inspiring "live action" visuals. And it wasn't just the incredible CGI and gorgeous direction by filmmaker Jon Favreau ("Iron Man"), as the film gave the story dramatic new dimension, with splendid character work and brilliant performances by Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, John Oliver, and Alfre Woodard.

25. Heat Wave

Also starring Blair Underwood ("Dirty Sexy Money") and Cicely Tyson ("Diary of a Mad Black Woman"), the 1990 television film "Heat Wave" stars James Earl Jones in the story of the 1965 Watts Riots in Los Angeles, more accurately referred to as the Watts Rebellion (per History). The movie follows Bob Richardson (Underwood), a low-level classified ad messenger for the L.A. Times who is caught in the middle of the civil unrest sparked by racial tensions between the Black community and the bigoted police force. The gung-ho Richardson takes it upon himself to chronicle the horrific events as he experiences them, and eventually comes to work for the paper as a full-time reporter. 

In this deeply dramatic retelling of the chaos that unfolded on L.A. streets, "Heat Wave" sees Underwood's Bob Richardson encounter shoe shop owner Junius (played by James Earl Jones), as well as characters played by a number of Oscar-nominated actors including Tyson, Sally Kirkland, and Margaret Avery. The film would go on to win four Cable Ace Awards, with Jones taking home the Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special.

24. The Cay

Based on the 1969 novel of the same name, the 1974 television movie "The Cay" sees a 43-year-old James Earl Jones don a white beard for the role of Timothy, a wise old man aboard a ship during World War II, the S.S. Hato. The film focuses on a young boy named Phillip, another passenger of the Hato, who awakens aboard a raft to find that he and Timothy are the only survivors after their ship has been sunk by enemy torpedoes. Now blind from a blow to the head during the attack, Phillip needs Timothy's help as make their way to a small deserted island where they must find a way to survive until they can find rescue.

But Timothy also prepares young Phillip to take care of himself on the island — even without sight — as he too is dying. After he passes away, it's up to Phillip to fend for himself and somehow find a way to alert one of the passing planes and be rescued. Though billed as a movie, "The Cay" is a brisk hour-long drama, and is more than worth a watch if it can be tracked down, as Jones gives a moving performance as the wise and fatherly Timothy.

23. Summer's End

The feature film directorial debut for Helen Shaver (who would go on to direct episodes of "Westworld," "Law and Order: SVU," and "Station Eleven"), the 1999 family movie "Summer's End" saw James Earl Jones star as retired doctor Bill Blakely. Once a prominent physician at an Atlanta Hospital, Blakely has never quite come to terms with his troubled youth, and takes a trip back to his boyhood hometown where he is confronted by the ghosts of his dark past.

While there, the old doctor meets and befriends a young local boy going through his own traumatic experiences in the here and now. Devastated by the death of his father, the boy meets Blakely while he and his family are spending the summer at the lakeside community. As their bond grows, the two have a chance to teach each other lessons about trauma, truth, and the spirit of friendship, but only if they can overcome the town's bigotry and prejudice that has long haunted Blakely. Winner of two Daytime Emmy Awards, Jones would nab the trophy for his role as Blakely, winning Outstanding Performance in a Children's Special.

22. The River Niger

Based on the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play by Joseph A. Walker, the 1972 drama "The River Niger" is one of James Earl Jones' most unfairly overlooked films. Also starring Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett Jr., the film is set in the same Los Angeles community as "Heat Wave," and concerns the trials and tribulations of the Williams family. James Earl Jones plays family father Johnny, a big drinker and a bigger dreamer. Johnny is an amateur poet and painter and has a deep love of faith and family. 

But living in the ghetto, Johhny struggles to support his multi-generational family, which includes his elderly mother (Hilda Haynes) and his wife Mattie (Tyson), who has been diagnosed with cancer. It also includes his adult son (Glenn Thurman), who returns home from the Air Force with news that he has been discharged from military service. Jones gives one of the finer performances of this part of his career, in a film that has been largely forgotten in the years since.

21. A Family Thing

A film co-written by screenwriter and actor Billy Bob Thornton, the 1996 film "A Family Thing" united two longtime Hollywood legends, Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones, who play a pair of surprising biological brothers. It all starts with the death of a white woman named Ruby Pilcher, who leaves behind a letter for her son Earl (Duvall) informing him that his real mother was in fact an African American maid who had worked for the family and had been sexually assaulted by his father. 

Shaken by this revelation, Earl seeks out his real mother's surviving family and meets Ray Murdoch (Jones), a Chicago police officer who had always blamed Earl's father for his mother's death, and hates him by association. After being hospitalized, Earl is taken in by Ray, whose family struggles to understand him. But thanks to the kind and loving words of the family matriarch, Ray and Earl slowly bond and begin to understand each other, finding more similarities than they had ever realized. Together, along with Ray's adult son Virgil, they learn the true meaning of family, faith, and tolerance.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

20. The Road to Freedom: The Vernon Johns Story

The story of one of the civil rights movement's most important leaders you might never have heard of, James Earl Jones stars as Vernon Johns, a crusading minister who was fighting against racism before Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. In 1948, Johns preceded King as the leader of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama. He was every bit as vociferous as the two leaders who would come after him, standing up to the rampant intolerance and bigotry that permeated his community. His outspoken activism made him plenty of enemies, including those within the heavily racist police force.

While his family feared for his safety, Johns never held back despite the threats and harassment, intent on ending segregation and finally finding equality for his people. Despite the challenges he faced, the pioneering Black leader held firm and stayed true to his principles, and eventually became known as the father of the civil rights movement in America. While King and Malcolm X often get the spotlight in historical Hollywood fare, "Road to Freedom" explores the life of the man who trod before them.

19. Cry the Beloved Country

Based on the acclaimed 1948 novel by Alan Paton, "Cry the Beloved Country" is a 1995 film that was one of the first South African productions after the election of Nelson Mandela and the fall of apartheid. Its impressive cast includes James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, and Charles S. Dutton. Set just prior to the implementation of apartheid in the early 1940s, Jones plays Reverend Stephen Kumalo, who is summoned to Johannesburg by a fellow minister. 

When he arrives, he discovers his two children in trouble, having fallen in with a dangerous crowd. And when the son of a white wealthy landowner (Harris) is killed, his son Absalom is arrested for the crime. Reverend Kumalo gets to know the father of the victim, a man named James Jarvis (Harris), a racist apartheid supporter, and the film shows us the two men forced to find common ground. A film that sets lofty goals for itself, "Cry the Beloved Country" doesn't quite meet them all, but is a spiritually fulfilling story with a powerful message.

18. The Man

Originally crafted as a TV movie before the studio pivoted to a theatrical release (per The Los Angeles Times), the 1972 political drama "The Man" was written by "The Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling. The film stars James Earl Jones as Douglas Dilman, a man who rises to become the first African American President of the United States. But Dilman — the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate — isn't elected to the office, instead he is elevated to the highest office in the nation after the President and the Speaker of the House are killed in an accident overseas, and the Vice President refuses the promotion due to a terminal diagnosis. 

The first Hollywood movie to feature an African American U.S. President, the film depicts Dilman's presidency as a controversial one in an era when the civil rights movement was just a few years old. After assuming the presidency he finds that many close to him don't believe he can do the job, while others actively work to undermine him and his administration. But when he finally begins to find success in office he faces what may be his toughest challenge when he's accused of turning his back on the Black community and becoming "the man."

17. Reading Room

A 2005 Hallmark Channel original movie, "The Reading Room" is a feel-good story of a man who wants to do right by his community, but faces many challenges along the way. The film centers on William Campbell (James Earl Jones), a wealthy man whose wife has recently passed away. In order to honor her last requests, Campbell spearheads the opening of a free library and learning center to serve the impoverished community where he had spent much of his youth. 

But the endeavor proves easier said than done, as a local preacher is skeptical of Campbell's intentions, while car-jackings and break-ins threaten to shut down his library. But Campbell perseveres and soldiers on, and teaches under-privileged children how to read, bringing a beacon of hope into a neighborhood desperately in need of way to the light. An inspiring story, "The Reading Room" holds few surprises, but with Jones' towering performance as the gentle and wise Campbell, we get a heartwarming story of one man's commitment to honor his true love by helping others.

16. End of the Road

A controversial exploitation film that was originally X-rated thanks to several graphic and violent sequences (via TV Guide), 1970's "End of the Road" was shocking to say the least, and featured James Earl Jones in perhaps his most surprising role. The story concerns a man named Jack Horner (Stacy Keach), an academic and professor who has a mental breakdown while waiting for a train, falling into a near catatonic state. Eventually, Horner manages to get the help of an eccentric psychiatrist known only as Doctor D (Jones).

But under this odd doctor's care, things only get worse for Jack, as D proves a sadistic madman. With a deranged logic the twisted surgeon of the mind sends Jack down a rabbit hole, and when he comes out the other side, he is a changed man. Following his treatment, he encounters a married couple and winds up turning their lives upside down. A psychedelic journey, "End of the Road" defies conventional description, but trust us when we say it is not for the faint of heart. Despite its utterly ghastly content, the film managed strong reviews from critics like Roger Ebert, and it received renewed attention more than 40 years later when A-list director Steven Soderbergh highlighted it as a personal favorite (via IndieWire).

15. Clear and Present Danger

With the 1992 film "Patriot Games" a big hit, a sequel was quickly moved into production, landing just two years later. The film reunited Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones, in his third appearance as Jim Greer after his debut in "The Hunt for Red October." Here, Greer is an ailing admiral, hospitalized with pancreatic cancer, but continues to act as CIA Agent Jack Ryan's friend, mentor, and advisor in his latest assignment. In the film, Ryan is made Deputy Director of Intelligence thanks to Greer's recent hospitalization, and is tasked with negotiating with the Colombian government at the behest of the President of the United States, in a deal to seize the assets of an international drug lord.

Unbeknownst to Ryan, however, is that a secret mission has been launched by covert U.S. forces; a deadly kill mission to take out the ruthless Cali Cartel, led by steely-eyed CIA special ops soldier John Clark (Willem Dafoe). The clandestine conflict puts Ryan in the middle of a dangerous international game, and makes him an unwitting target of the cartels while on a diplomatic mission. Though it couldn't quite match "Patriot Games" or "Red October," the threequel "Clear and Present Danger" is still a top notch political thriller and action adventure film — Ford and Jones' last on-screen pairing to date.

14. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars And Motor Kings

In his long career, James Earl Jones has starred in his share of iconic baseball movies, and while most will easily recall "Field of Dreams" or his small but memorable role in "The Sandlot," his first was the 1976 comedy "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings." Set in the 1930s, the film stars Billy Dee Williams (who would later join Jones in "The Empire Strikes Back"), Richard Pryor, Stan Shaw, and Tony Burton as players on the titular team of barnstorming baseballers who get together and strike out on their own, leaving the Negro League behind to travel around entertaining fans across the country.

Battling and beating local teams in the Midwest, they become enough of a draw that their former Negro League team's owner proposes a matchup with his own All-Star team. If Bingo Long (Williams) can lead his team to victory, the league will accept them as their newest official team. But if they lose, they must all go back to play for their old teams. Meanwhile, one of their biggest boppers is hoping to make the jump to the majors and break the color barrier. Set in the middle of one of the most unique and unheralded eras in sport history, "The Bingo Long All-Stars" manages to tackle serious topics like racism and prejudice while delivering plenty of laughs at the same time.

13. Conan the Barbarian

The first big screen adaptation of the classic sword-and-sandal series of novels by Robert E. Howard, "Conan the Barbarian" stars future action hero icon Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first major role of his career. The film was directed by John Millius ("Red Dawn") and written by Millius and Oliver Stone. A brutally violent fantasy epic, Arnold plays the titular barbarian as a larger-than-life, muscle-bound, sword-wielding warrior out for vengeance after the death of his parents. When Conan was but a child, the cruel tyrant Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) invaded his homeland of Cimmeria, murdered his parents, and stole his father's sword.

Years later, now a highly trained warrior, Conan sets out across the land to track down Thulsa Doom, recover his family sword, and get his bloody revenge. Along the way he allies himself with the outlaw Valeria and the mystical wizard Akiro, going on to loot the Tower of the Serpent and rescue a beautiful princess. An '80s classic, it helped usher in a new wave of fantasy adventure films like "Hercules" (starring Arnold's body building rival Lou Ferrigno), while receiving its own sequel in 1984 and a spin-off in the form of "Red Sonja" a year later.

12. Coming to America

At the height of his fame in the late 1980s, comedy superstar Eddie Murphy led "Coming to America," an uproariously funny film co-starring James Earl Jones, Arsenio Hall, John Amos, and Madge Sinclair. Both Murphy and Hall played multiple roles in the film, a practice Murphy would repeat several more times in his career. But here, his main role was as Prince Akeem, a foreign royal whose father, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) has arranged for him to be married. 

But seeking a bride of his own choosing, Akeem and his friend Semmi (Hall) flee to New York City. There, Akeem meets the lovely Lisa (Sheri Headley) who is swept off her feet by the undercover Prince. Trouble arises when his father the king arrives in New York to find his son engaged to a strange American woman, while Lisa's father does not approve of their marriage ... until he finds out that Akeem is really a royal.  

Reuniting director John Landis and Eddie Murphy, who collaborated on "Trading Places" a few years prior, the picture was a big hit, with James Earl Jones delivering a wonderfully witty performance as King Jaffe.

11. Sneakers

A '90s thriller that boasts a broad ensemble cast, "Sneakers" features James Earl Jones alongside the likes of Robert Redford, Ben Kingsley, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, and Mary McDonnell. The story centers on Martin (Redford), a reformed criminal who now leads a team of "break-in" professionals — hackers and heist experts who are hired by banks, insurance companies, and tech moguls to test their security systems. Perhaps the earliest cyber-security pros, these reformed crooks have turned their criminal pasts into a lucrative legal business.

The story kicks off when the team is approached by a pair of government agents who need their services for an actual heist. Asked to recover a so-called "black box" supposedly stolen by a Russian operative, they're in way over their heads when it's discovered the device is a bleeding edge decryption device, and the men who hired them aren't who they seem. But with the help of a noble NSA agent (James Earl Jones), they must navigate the high-stakes world of international espionage to thwart a plot by a devious criminal from Martin's past.

A modern crime caper with a veteran cast of award-winning actors, "Sneakers" is full of clever twists and turns.

10. Patriot Games

Three years after "The Hunt for Red October," a sequel would arrive in the form of "Patriot Games," based on another novel by Tom Clancy. James Earl Jones returned to reprise his role as Admiral Jim Greer, but the lead role of Jack Ryan would be recast for the follow-up, with Jones' "Star Wars" co-star Harrison Ford taking over the part of the intrepid CIA analyst from Alec Baldwin. This time around, Ryan is in London on vacation with his family when Irish terrorists attempt to kill a member of the British Royal family, and he courageously steps in to stop the attack. But in the melee, Ryan kills the brother of IRA member Sean Miller (Sean Bean).

After an attempted assassination of his wife and daughter, Ryan — with his old friend Admiral Greer by his side — sets out to track down the terrorists and stop them before they can strike at the Royal Family again. But Sean's personal vendetta consumes him, as he puts aside his IRA mission in order to exact vengeance on Ryan for the murder of his brother. A gripping action thriller, Ford and Jones make the perfect team of bureaucrat and action hero, and prove to be a formidable on-screen duo. Anne Archer, Thora Birch, Richard Harris, and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast.

9. Matewan

James Earl Jones stars alongside Chris Cooper ("The Amazing Spider-Man 2") and Mary McDonnell ("Battlestar Galactica") in the 1987 film "Matewan," which depicts the 1920 coal miners' strike in West Virginia. The movie begins with the Stone Mountain Coal Company doing what they can to prevent their labor force from striking, but union organizer Joe Kenehan (Cooper) has other ideas. While the company tries to provoke the miners into violence, Joe does his best to tamp down hostilities between the company and his men, while trying to smooth relations with Black and Italian laborers who've been brought in to cross the picket line.

Things go from bad to worse when armed men hired by the company attempt to intimidate the workers. But unexpected sympathy from nearby hill people embolden the striking miners to fight back and hold their ground. As the strike drags on, tensions between Kenehan and his miners threatens to boil over as he's framed for an assault, turning Few Clothes Johnson (James Earl Jones) against him.

Though a box office flop, "Matewan" was lauded by critics and audiences alike. A historical western of a sort, it's a dramatic recounting of an important event in the history of American worker's rights that had been left untold on screen for far too long. 

8. Claudine

Having returned from the Hollywood blacklisting scandal, director John Berry helmed the 1970 romantic drama "Claudine," starring Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones. Carroll plays the titular Claudine, a single mother of six who works nights as a maid for wealthy residents in the Bronx to afford a decent life. But one fateful evening Claudine meets a charming, devil-may-care garbageman named Roop (James Earl Jones), and her life goes topsy-turvy. In love and looking for commitment, she is cautious about inviting the irresponsible Roop into her life on a full-time basis.

At the same time, Roop isn't so sure he wants to become a father of six overnight, because he's also dealing with a troubled former marriage and two children he's failed to support. Propped up by the comic performances of its two talented stars who also boast great romantic chemistry, "Claudine" impresses as a delightful '70s comedy. Well-reviewed, The New York Times called it a "triumphantly" funny film, a slice-of-life exploration of the struggles of the working class in modern Harlem.

7. The Hunt for Red October

Before John Krasinski, before Chris Pine and Ben Affleck, before even Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin played American super-spy Jack Ryan in the first big screen Tom Clancy adaptation, "The Hunt for Red October." The 1990 movie was directed by John McTiernan ("Die Hard," "Predator"), and co-stars James Earl Jones as Admiral Jim Greer, in his first of three appearances in the role. Sean Connery plays Marko Ramius, who at the height of the Cold War commands a deadly new Russian submarine called the Red October. With global tensions already at a fever pitch, Ryan and Greer must track down the sub when Ramius defies his own people's orders and goes rogue with the nuclear-armed undersea vessel.

In addition to Jones, Baldwin, and Connery, the all-star cast also features Scott Glenn and Courtney B. Vance on Greer's side, while Sam Neill, Stellan Skarsgård, and Tim Curry appear as Russian officers under Ramius. A devastating action thriller classic, it officially heralded the arrival of the Jack Ryan franchise that's still going strong today.

6. Field of Dreams

The 1988 fantasy drama "Field of Dreams" tells the heartwarming tale of Ray Kinsella, a Midwestern farmer who begins to hear voices inexplicably instructing him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. James Earl Jones co-stars alongside Kevin Costner's Ray as a local author named Terence Mann, a reclusive figure whose works have become controversial. Together, the pair come to realize they have something in common: They're both having the same dreams of a mysterious baseball field. The two embark on an unlikely journey as they set out to make their dream come true.

With Mann's help, and against all odds, the beleaguered Ray manages to build his park in the middle of his own cornfield. Somehow, the ghosts of long-gone baseball players soon emerge and start playing games there, including a young and eager rookie who in real life never had the chance to play the game. Ray is even able to meet his own father, who'd died year earlier, and finally come to terms with their relationship.

One of the most best baseball movies ever made, "Field of Dreams" has become inextricably linked to America's pastime. Today even Major League Baseball hosts an annual "Field of Dreams" game, played between two big league clubs each year, in a specially constructed ballpark in a cornfield in Iowa (via NPR).

5. The Great White Hope

Adapted from the Tony Award-winning stage play that James Earl Jones had appeared in on Broadway, "The Great White Hope" would see the actor reprise his role on the big screen in 1970. Alongside his original on-stage co-star Jane Alexander, Jones stars as Jack Jefferson, a boxer who began to dominate the boxing world in the early 1910s. But as he rises through the ranks, beating fighter after fighter, the white establishment does its best to stop a Black man from becoming champion. As Jefferson knocks out every white opponent he faces, he just can't compete against the intolerance that surrounds him.

Complicating matters for Jefferson is his courtship of a young white woman named Eleanor Bachman, which only enflames the public's disdain for him. Now the boxing world prays for a "Great White Hope" — a new fighter who might stand a chance against Jefferson and prevent him from taking the heavyweight title. With the world against him, Jefferson won't back down, but it may come at a terrible cost.

A triumphant film that turned James Earl Jones into a bonafide big screen star, both he and Alexander would be nominated for Oscars for their performances.

4. Return of the Jedi

In the third and final film of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, James Earl Jones returned to the role of Darth Vader, now revealed to be the father of the newly minted Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. After rescuing his friend Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, Luke seeks out a final confrontation with his father, hoping to both save his soul and stop the Empire from launching a new deadly super weapon at the same time. But Vader is more than ready for him, and believes he can turn Luke to his side to overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy together.

In the finale of one of the best movie trilogies ever made, James Earl Jones gets some of his finest material yet in his role as Darth Vader. With only his voice, the actor is able to imbue the indomitable Sith Lord with a remarkable amount of pathos as he becomes conflicted when the Emperor sentences his son to death. Though David Prowse was the actor under Vader's mask and Sebastian Shaw would eventually be chosen to portray the Darth Vader in the flesh for the final moments of the film when he shows his face for the first time in the series, James Earl Jones will always be the person most closely associated with the role of cinema's greatest villain.

3. The Lion King (1994)

The classic 1994 Disney animated feature "The Lion King" was a smash hit for the studio, and still remains one of the highest grossing animated films ever made three decades later (via Newsweek). With memorable musical numbers and an all-star voice cast, it stars James Earl Jones as the King of the Pride Lands, Mufasa. The elder royal lion is teaching his young son Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) the ways of the world, in order to prepare him for the day when he will become king. But secretly, Mufasa's cousin Scar (Jeremy Irons) plots to kill the king and his son and take the throne for himself. Though Mufasa is killed, he is able to save his son's life.

With his father dead, the young Simba runs away and goes to live in the jungle, making friends with animals like the lovable warthog Pumbaa and his weaselly meerkat pal Timon. But once he grows up, Simba must face his family legacy, and with his friends' help, sets out to retake the kingdom from Scar and his tyrannical forces. One of Disney's most celebrated animated features, it spawned multiple sequels and spinoffs, and was remade in 2019 in CGI/live-action, with Jones reprising his role as Mufasa.

2. Star Wars

Released in 1977, the original "Star Wars" — since retitled "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" — became a bonafide cultural phenomenon, and Darth Vader was a big reason why. Clad in all black with an ominous helmeted visage, Vader was powerful, imposing, and with a distinctive baritone voice provided by James Earl Jones which made him downright terrifying. The movie is, of course, the story of young Luke Skywalker, the farmboy from a backwater planet called Tatooine who dreams of leaving home and finding adventure. He gets it when the evil Galactic Empire murders his aunt and uncle, and the mysterious mystical warrior Obi-Wan Kenobi takes him under his wing. Together with charismatic smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee copilot Chewbacca, they leave Tatooine to rescue the imperiled Princess Leia.

The adventure takes Luke and his new companions into the heart of the Empire, aboard their planet-destroying super-weapon known as the Death Star, and their eventual victory brings Luke to the attention of Vader himself. The role that would make Jones an icon, his unmistakable voice has haunted children's nightmares for decades.

1. The Empire Strikes Back

James Earl Jones returned as the inimitable voice of galactic despot Darth Vader in the highly anticipated 1980 sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back," and this time around he played an even more important role than he had three years before. Set not long after the previous film, the young Luke Skywalker is off searching for an ancient warrior said to be able to train him in the ways of the Jedi, to prepare him for his next encounter with the Empire and the Dark Lord of the Sith. 

Vader, meanwhile, is determined to track down the troublesome rebel, and with the help of bounty hunter Boba Fett, he lures Luke to Cloud City by placing his friends in danger. Hoping to ensnare the powerful Skywalker and turn him to the dark side of the Force, Vader meets Luke in a momentous confrontation that would change cinema forever.

Often cited as one of the best sequels ever made, "The Empire Strikes Back" also immortalized Jones with one of the most famous lines of dialog ever spoken on screen. Rocking audiences to their core, his revelation to Luke — "I am your father" — sent audiences into a frenzy and cemented Vader's (and Jones') place in Hollywood history.