Apparently, the most recognizable villain from Star Wars no longer has James Earl Jones as his voice.
The 91-year-old actor has authorized Lucasfilm and Disney, its parent company, to use his voice in virtual versions of the enduring evil he has portrayed for more than 40 years.
It was reported in a piece by Vanity Fair that Ukrainian start-up Respeecher has been collaborating with Lucasfilm for years to produce the iconic voice Jones used 45 years ago. The actor’s voice has changed with age, and he has mostly retreated from the role of Darth Vader.
Since the first movie, subsequently dubbed A New Hope, was released in 1977, Jones has provided the voice of the fearsome Darth Vader. Although he has never donned the outfit, helmet, and cape, he has delivered memorable lines like “I am your father,” which was revealed to Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker in the sequel.
Respeecher uses historical recordings and artificial intelligence to produce fresh conversations using the voices of actors from the past. According to Matthew Wood of Skywalker Sound, Jones has been recorded “dozens of times.”
Wood remarked, “He had mentioned he was thinking about winding down this specific persona. How then do we proceed?
Although Jones gave his approval to the technology, he continued to direct the performances that were used in recent Star Wars productions, the most recent of which being the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Jones is described by Wood as “a good godfather.”
To clarify whether the actor will be leaving the job completely or staying on in this consulting position, Jones’ representatives did not immediately react to PEOPLE.
Jones made a comeback as Darth Vader in June for the third installment of the Disney+ limited series, which is set ten years after the events of the 2005 blockbuster Revenge of the Sith.
In the most recent episode, when Darth Vader squares off against the titular Jedi Master, spectators were first exposed to him (Ewan McGregor).
Jones is most known for providing the voice of the older Vader in the original three Star Wars movies, while Hayden Christensen made his long-awaited return to the Sith Lord’s famed black costume in the series, playing the younger Anakin Skywalker after he’s turned to the Dark Side.
Jones’ next reward will be to have his name displayed on a famous Broadway theatre in New York City.
The 110-year-old Cort Theatre will be renamed after the illustrious performer in honor of his lifelong achievements to Broadway and the entertainment industry, the Shubert Organization declared in a news release in March.
The statement released by Shubert quoted Jones as saying, “For me standing in this identical building 64 years ago at the commencement of my Broadway career, it would have been unthinkable that my name would be on the building today. Let all aspiring performers be motivated by my experience from then to now.
When the 1958 drama Sunrise at Campobello was released, Jones made his Broadway debut at the Cort Theatre. He appeared in 21 Broadway productions, won the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) award, and was given the Kennedy Center Honor during the successful six-and-a-half-decade career that followed.
In 1969 and 1987, in The Great White Hope and Fences, respectively, are where Jones won his two Tony Awards for best actor in a play. In 2017, he also received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The National Medal of Arts and seven Drama Desk Awards are just a few of the honors Jones has received throughout his remarkable career.
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