It’s been announced that James Earl Jones, the longtime voice actor who provided the sinister voice of Darth Vader, will be stepping down from the role. He is 91, and voiced Vader beginning in the original movie franchise and onto several other animated projects set in the galaxy far, far away.

While he most recently was credited for some voice lines in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, but the 91 year old actor has hung up his particularly-shaped helmet. His lines in Kenobi were the first use of the AI recreation. Jones is also an acclaimed theater actor who has performed in a number of Shakespeare plays and has won three Tony Awards out of five nominations.

Lucasfilm had already been forming a solution to this by attempting to commission AI artists to recreate Jones’ voice out of archival footage. Jones has signed off on the process, so don’t worry about underhanded uses of his voice occurring.

The company making this happen is the Ukrainian-based company Respeecher, which was founded with the aim of archiving and developing AI speakers for the voices of well-known performers. Their process was nearly derailed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but a prototype has apparently been completed and received approval from Jones’ family.


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