James Earl Jones has been the iconic voice of Darth Vader since the very first Star Wars, and he’s managed to reprise the role over the years with Vader’s appearances in Rogue One and Obi-Wan Kenobi. At 91-years-old though, Jones has decided to officially step back from the character.
According to Vanity Fair, Jones has signed over the rights of his voice to Lucasfilm, allowing them to use the Respeecher technology to bring Vader to life—the same they used for young Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian.
Lucasfilm’s Matthew Wood said about Jones’ exit, “He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character… So how do we move forward?”
If anything, they probably already used the Respeecher tech during Obi-Wan Kenobi; it’s kind of like how the credit Mark Hamill for the Disney+ shows even if none of his actual performance makes it to the final cut.
While I thought the Respeecher tech was kind of odd to listen to when it came to Luke Skywalker, I think that it would work perfect for a character like Vader, who isn’t supposed to resemble a human anyway. Even if that was the case, I’m sure that Lucasfilm is continuously working to improve the technology. Personally, I’m on the side of hiring completely new actors as compared to just bringing back everyone from the dead with VFX tech.
We don’t know where Vader will appear again, but you can catch him in Obi-Wan Kenobi now streaming on Disney+.