James Earl Jones has basically retired from voicing uber-villain Darth Vader, but he approved the high-tech recreation of his voice for future “Star Wars” projects, Vanity Fair reported.
The 91-year-old Jones, who has played the iconic bad guy since the original 1977 “Star Wars,” last uttered a line for the character in 2019′s “The Rise of Skywalker.”
“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Skywalker Sound editor Matthew Wood told VF. “So how do we move forward?”
The answer came in the Ukrainian startup Respeecher, which could convert old recordings of Jones into newly voiced fresh dialogue that sounds exactly like him. That way, Jones’ younger vocal imprint as Vader could be preserved for future projects ― and be manipulated by artificial intelligence into speaking new lines.
The recent Disney+ “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series already featured the technology, overseen by Jones himself, to the satisfaction of the actor and his family.
The reanimation of Jones’ trademark Vader baritone nearly didn’t happen, however.
Bogdan Belyaev of Respeecher rushed to deliver the cloned recordings to Skywalker Sound as Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. He hunkered down in his bathroom working frantically as air raid sirens blared.
“If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” Belyaev told Vanity Fair. “So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February.”
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