The Famous Star Wars Actor Who Went Uncredited

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

When you think about the most famous Star Wars character, you very likely think of Darth Vader. This Dark Lord of the Sith already looked like a scary figure, but it was arguably the deep voice of James Earl Jones that cemented him as one of pop culture’s most fearsome foes. However, one of the hidden ironies of this galaxy far, far away is that Jones went uncredited as the voice for the first two films because he felt his voicework was nothing more than a special effect.

James Earl Jones Was Famous Before Star Wars

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By the time the first Star Wars movie came out, James Earl Jones was already very well known. In addition to being a Broadway veteran, the actor won an Oscar for his performance as Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope. However, he had never ventured into voice work until George Lucas needed a voice for Darth Vader.

Re-Dubbing Darth Vader

The fact that Lucas wanted a different voice for Vader caused major controversy and strife during the production of the Original Trilogy. The man actually inside the Darth Vader suit was David Prowse, a tall bodybuilder who was perfect at physically portraying this galactic tyrant. Throughout the filming of A New Hope, he voiced all of Vader’s lines while filming.

On set, Prowse was well aware that his voice sounded too muffled through Darth Vader’s famous helmet. When he expressed concerns about this, George Lucas reassured the actor that all of the lines would be re-recorded during postproduction. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, the director was telling the truth “from a certain point of view” because those lines were re-recorded…by James Earl Jones rather than David Prowse.

Darth Farmer

The reason for this was simple…even when David Prowse wasn’t muffled by a helmet, his insanely thick Devonshire accent just wasn’t very scary. The crew knew this, too, and they gave the actor the unflattering nickname of “Darth Farmer.” Lucas began casting for a better voice, but he was hesitant to cast James Earl Jones for a very surprising reason.

James Earl Jones Is The Perfect Darth Vader

Back then, Lucas was conscious that Star Wars was an overwhelmingly white film, and he was worried about the optics of having the one Black person in the cast play the villain. Despite liking Jones’ voice, he considered other actors for the role, including Hollywood legend Orson Welles. At the end of the day, though, Lucas decided that nobody sounded better for Darth Vader than Jones.

Considered A Very Small Role At The Time

Star Wars fans are certainly glad Jones took the part, but at the time, he didn’t consider it a big deal. It only took him two and a half hours to record all of Vader’s lines, and he took home a relatively modest $7,500, later calling his voicework nothing but “special effects.” He went completely uncredited for the first two movies in order to keep the spotlight on the man in the suit, telling the world that Prowse “is Vader.”

James Earl Jones Finally Received Credit

There’s a certain irony there because the majority of people now associate James Earl Jones with Darth Vader, and the most casual fans don’t even know who Prowse is. Eventually, though, Jones allowed himself to be credited for his work in Return of the Jedi, and when the earlier films were re-released, his name was inserted into the credits.

While we personally believe both men deserve equal credit for their part in this franchise, it’s fascinating to think that a long time ago (in a ‘70s far, far away), the most famous voice in the galaxy didn’t want credit for his incredible work