After decades of serving as the voice of Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” film franchise, James Earl Jones is handing his duties over to technology.
According to NBC News, the renowned actor has officially signed off on archival voice recordings, a system being used by beginner filmmakers who are planning to use artificial intelligence (AI) to recreate Jones’ younger voice from the franchise’s previous films.
Jones, who made his “Star Wars” debut in the original version of the movie in 1977 as the voice of Darth Vader, previously disclosed plans with the team to walk away from the character forever.
“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” said Matthew Wood, a 32-year veteran of Lucasfilm, the company behind the iconic film franchise. “So how do we move forward?”
The Power of Tech
It looks like the next step is tapping into the power of technology with the help of Respeecher, a Ukrainian startup using AI software to build new conversations by repurposing old voice recordings.
Forever Our Darth Vader
The company will use “archival recordings and a proprietary AI algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago.”
In addition to that, Lucasfilm wants to continue working alongside Jones by informing him “about their plans for Vader and [to] heed his advice on how to stay on the right course.”
In a previous interview, the 91-year-old actor opened up about the original $7,000 salary he received to voice the film franchise, which has an estimated total value of $70 billion and ranks as No. 5 as the highest-grossing franchise of all-time, per reports from SCMP.
The Voice of Generations
“George wanted, pardon the expression, a dark voice,” Jones previously told Insider about director of the 1977 film, George Lucas. “So he hires a guy born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, who stutters. And that’s the voice. That’s me.”
He added, “I lucked out from all these so-called handicaps for a job that paid $7,000. And I thought that was good money. And I got to be a voice on a movie.”
According to Celebrity Net Worth, James Earl Jones, who also served as the voice actor of Mufasa in “The Lion King,” is worth an estimated $40 million.