Artificial Intelligence: James Earl Jones Agrees To AI Cloning His Voice For Darth Vader
Now over 90, James Earl Jones, who lent his voice to Darth Vader, the menacing character in Star Wars, is stepping away from that role.
A Ukrainian startup called Respeecher took up the task of using AI to recreate Jone’s voice in Disney Plus’ Obi-Wan Kenobi. According to The Verge, which cited Vanity Fair, Jones had signed off rights to his archival voice work.
Respeecher digitally recreated Jones’ voice by using sound bites to record new lines even though the actor was not present in the recording studio. Matthew Wood, Skywalker Sound’s supervising sound editor, sounded out Jones about the option to digitally clone his voice after the actor hinted he wanted to step away from the Darth Vader role.
Once Lucasfilm had permission from Jones, they appointed Respeecher to give Darth Vader his voice, albeit generated by AI. When Obi-Wan Kenobi came out, viewers were chilled afresh by Vader and his terrifying presence. Jones’ family were so happy with the result of the simulation they told Wood it was fitting tribute to the actor who had lent his voice to Vader for so many years.
The startup had previously done a similar task for the younger version of Luke Skywalker in Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
According to Respeecher, they used clips from “many early years’ worth of radio broadcasts, interviews, ADRs, and dubs” of Mark Hamill to clone Skywalker’s voice.
Meanwhile, for Obi-Wan Kenobi, Wood said Jones was a “benevolent godfather” who guided the performance during the making of the show.
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