James Earl Jones no longer plays Darth Vader

When Obi Wan Kenobi premiered earlier this year on Disney+, some viewers noticed that Darth Vader just sounded a little different. It certainly didn’t sound like a different actor providing his voice; James Earl Jones’ signature bass came out loud and clear. But it almost happened too strong and too release. Jones is now 91, and in recent years his performances as Vader, especially in the star wars prequel A thug, sounded a bit different. But Vader in Obi Wan showed no signs of age.

A new article in vanity lounge explains the difference. The 91-year-old Jones had quietly “stepped back” from the role and allowed Lucasfilm to create his dialogue using archival recordings and AI technology.

Here is more from their article:

“Jones had mentioned that he was looking to eliminate this particular character,” said [Skywalker Sound sound editor Matthew] Wood. “So how can we move forward? When he finally presented Jones with Respeecher’s work, the actor agreed to use his archival voice recordings to keep Vader alive and vital even through artificial means – appropriate, perhaps, for a character. half mechanical. Jones is credited with guiding performance on Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Wood describes his contribution as “a benevolent godfather”. They update the actor on their plans for Vader and heed his advice on how to stay on track.

Vader’s new/old voice was created by Respeecher, a Ukrainian tech company that uses “archival recordings and a proprietary AI algorithm to create a new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago “.

OBI WAN KENOBI
Lucasfilm Ltd.

You can hear the difference for yourself below. Compare this performance of the real James Earl Jones from Rogue One…

…with the AI-augmented Vader of Obi Wan Kenobi…

It doesn’t feel contrived; in fact, Respeecher’s work is remarkably seamless. You’d swear that’s young James Earl Jones speaking. But it sounds like Young James Earl Jones, not the 91-year-old version.

It’s actually amazing work of technology (albeit with slightly unnerving implications). And it makes you wonder: Which actor will we hear from again next?

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