James Earl Jones, who is 91 years old and has had a remarkable career as one of the most recognizable voices on the planet, has retired from performing as Darth Vader, but not before allowing technology to carry on his legacy. According to a Vanity Fair article, the actor has now given the rights to his voice recordings to a Ukrainian artificial intelligence (AI) business, which developed voices to be used in the most recent Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi.
You would be correct if you viewed Obi-Wan Kenobi and thought Vader sounded remarkably similar to his early Star Wars appearances. The voice was produced by AI using recordings from previously in the franchise. If you want to hear an immediate difference, listen to Earl Jones’ voice as Vader in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. This sound contrasts with the AI-generated voice based on his much younger self.
Any other appearances of Vader after Earl Jones leaves the part will almost definitely be produced by AI.
The Verge claims that Respeecher, the company in charge of the AI voice, and Lucasfilm previously collaborated on The Mandalorian to recreate a younger Luke Skywalker. In the most recent trilogy, the studio used cutting-edge CGI to create a lifelike representation of the late Carrie Fisher, whose character was essential to the franchise. Star Wars has been at the vanguard of bringing deceased performers back to life on screen.
Some businesses are even employing AI to let people attend funerals and communicate with the recently deceased. For example, the hologram company Story File used AI chatbots and video recordings of a person’s life to conduct a morbid Q&A at their own funeral.
Today’s AI may herald the end of death as we know it for individuals who led courageous lives or leave notable legacies.