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James Earl Jones signs off Darth Vader voice rights to A.I. technology

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Sep 24, 2022 2:32 pm Updated Nov 29, 2022 11:01 am

One of Star Wars' many memorable characters is the galactic tyrant Darth Vader, who remains to be an iconic villain in popular culture because of his all-black attire and menacing voice, which is incredibly lent by veteran actor James Earl Jones. 

The character recently appeared in the Star Wars miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi that premiered in May this year. The Disney+ series is set 10 years after the events of the 2005 film Revenge of the Sith and focuses on Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi as he faced his greatest defeat and the corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who became Darth Vader.

Jones returned to lend his voice to the character. However, it seems that he has done this in a not-so-authentic way as he had left it to A.I. technology to recreate his voice.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the people behind the A.I. technology said that the 91-year-old Jones had signed off his voice to them after deciding on wanting to retire from voicing Darth Vader.

"He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character," according to Matthew Wood, the supervising sound editor of Lucasfilm.

Wood had presented Jones with the work of voice-cloning company Respeecher, and the actor agreed to sign off his voice using his archival voice recordings to keep Darth Vader alive even if it is no longer authentic. 

It wasn't easy though, as the Obi-Wan Kanobi showrunners and the Respeecher team had to go through a lot of recordings to get it right.

"For a character such as Darth Vader, who might have 50 lines on a show, I might have a back-and-forth of almost over 10,000 files," Wood said.

The end result was nevertheless still successful. Vanity Fair reported that the Respeecher employees were pleased with how viewers adored the terrifying return of the galactic tyrant and how their work managed to pay tribute to Jones' iconic role.