James Earl Jones has basically retired from voicing supervillain Darth Vader, but approved high-tech recreation of his voice for future “Star Wars” projects, Vanity Fair reported.
Jones, 91, who has played the iconic villain since the original “Star Wars” in 1977, last spoke a line for the character in 2019’s “The Rise of Skywalker.”
“He had mentioned that he was looking to finish this particular character,” Skywalker Sound editor Matthew Wood told VF. “So how do we proceed?”
The answer came from Ukrainian startup Respeecher, which could turn old recordings of Jones into new dialogue with voices that sounded exactly like him. That way, Jones’ younger vocal imprint as Vader could be preserved for future projects and manipulated by artificial intelligence to deliver new lines.
The recent “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series on Disney+ already had the technology, overseen by Jones himself, to the satisfaction of the actor and his family.
However, the revival of Jones’ trademark baritone Vader almost didn’t happen.
Respeecher’s Bogdan Belyaev rushed to deliver the cloned recordings to Skywalker Sound as Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th. He crouched in his bathroom working frantically as air raid sirens sounded.
“If everything went wrong, we would never do these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” Belyaev told Vanity Fair. “So I decided to push this data on February 24th.”