James Earl Jones signs over rights to voice of Darth Vader to be replaced by AI

Tech 24-9-2022 Mashable 30
James Earl Jones in a tuxedo on stage accepting an award

At 91 years old, legendary actor James Earl Jones is looking to step back from his iconic role as the voice of Darth Vader. After 45 years of playing the part, Jones has signed over the rights of the Vader voice to filmmakers hoping to use artificial intelligence to "keep Vader alive," Deadline reported Saturday morning.

In a report from Vanity Fair, the company tasked with recreating the iconic villain is Ukrainian start-up Respeecher. The voice-cloning company has been working with Lucasfilm to generate many of the voices heard throughout the Star Wars universe like Luke Skywalker in Disney's The Book of Boba Fett. Respeecher uses "archival recordings and a proprietary AI algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago," Vanity Fair reported.

Respeecher's re-creation of Vader's voice can be heard in the recently released Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries and was a momentous accomplishment for the company, having done most of their work in the midst of the Russian invasion.

SEE ALSO: Inquisitor Reva is the next great Star Wars villain

This doesn't mean Jones doesn't own the rights to his voice. Vanity Fair reports that once Jones heard Respeecher's work, he signed off on using archival voice recordings in conjunction with the Vader character. Lucasfilm also plans to "inform the actor about their plans for Vader and heed his advice on how to stay on the right course."

Jones has been looking to retire, according to Vanity Fair, and worked with Lucasfilm on a way to wind down his role in the franchise. Jones's first appearance voicing the legendary villain was in 1977's Star Wars and he has since voiced Vader in the subsequent sequels and spin-off shows and movies. And while he's never suited up in the actual costume (that credit goes to David Prowse), it was Jones's beautiful and distinct voice that made Vader a film icon.


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