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James Earl Jones Retires As Darth Vader, Hands His Voice Over To AI

Vader will live on, but Earl Jones won't be actively voicing him.

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Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

clockSep 27 2022, 13:59 UTC
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AI has already been used to recreate Darth Vader. Image Credit: Stefano Buttafoco/Shutterstock.com

At 91 years of age and after an incredible career as one of the most iconic voices on the planet, James Earl Jones has retired from being the voice of Darth Vader – but not before allowing technology to continue his legacy. The actor has now handed over the rights to his voice recordings to a Ukrainian artificial intelligence (AI) company, which recreated voices to be used in the recent Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, according to a report by Vanity Fair.

If you watched Obi-Wan Kenobi and thought Vader sounded extremely similar to his early appearances in Star Wars, you’d be right. The voice used was AI-generated from samples taken earlier in the franchise. If you want an instant contrast, listen to the voice of Vader in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and you’ll hear Earl Jones’ actual voice in present day, which contrasts with the AI-generated voice based on his much younger self. 

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Now that Earl Jones has stepped away from the role, any future Vader appearances will almost certainly be AI-generated. 

According to The Verge, Lucasfilm have previously worked with Respeecher, the company responsible for the AI voice, on The Mandalorian to recreate a younger Luke Skywalker. Star Wars has been at the forefront of bringing past actors back to life on screen, with a particularly notable example in the latest trilogy in which the company used cutting-edge CGI to generate a realistic depiction of the late Carrie Fisher, whose character was integral to the franchise. 

Some companies are even using AI to allow funeral-goers to interact with the recently deceased, with hologram company StoryFile using video recordings of the person during their life, combined with an AI chatbot, to host a morbid Q&A at their own funeral. 

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For those who lived bold lives or leave famous legacies, the AI of today might finally spell the end of death as we know it. 


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