For Star Wars fans around the world, the voice of Darth Vader is unmistakable and irreplaceable. James Earl Jones first voiced Vader in the original 1977 Star Wars movie, and his deep, menacing tones have become one of the most recognizable aspects of the character. So understandably, after more than 40 years, Jones is retiring from the role – but his voice will live on thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).
Matthew Wood, Star Wars sound supervising editor, told Vanity Fair the 91-year-old actor “was looking into winding down this particular character”.
However, Jones has licensed the use of his voice for future productions. This means that even though he won’t be performing as Vader anymore, his voice will still be used to bring the character to life in new Star Wars projects.
For future Disney and Lucasfilm projects, artificial intelligence will recreate synthetic speech to imitate Jones’ iconic voice from earlier films.
Respeecher, a Ukrainian-based voice cloning firm, will use artificial intelligence to create new conversations from rejuvenated old voice recordings.
Over the years, many different actors have taken on the role of the villain. However, Jones’s deep and now distinctive voice has been a constant tie through the series, giving life to the character through generations.
Disney’s decision to use an AI to preserve Vader’s voice will likely fan the flames of disagreements over how such technology should be used in creative fields.
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