James Earl Jones Being Replaced As Darth Vader?

By Nathan Kamal | 2 months ago

James Earl Jones

There have been very few constants throughout the Star Wars saga. Actors have come and gone and in some cases, replaced with creepy digital simulacrum of themselves. The original trilogy was directed by three different filmmakers with writers, editors, and other props being plugged in and out. At this point, even original creator George Lucas has not been part of Star Wars for a decade. But the one constant link that ties everything together has been legendary actor James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader. While a whole slew of people has inhabited the black suit and cape to embody the darkest version of Anakin Skywalker, James Earl Jones has been the iconically bass voice of the Sith Lord. Until now…maybe?

The upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most eagerly anticipated Star Wars projects in years, with the return of Ewan McGregor as the titular Jedi/desert hermit already stoking high hopes. However, the people behind the show have been noticeably vague whether the star of The Great White Hope and Field of Dreams was also coming back to the series to voice Darth Vader. The press surrounding the series has made much of the fact that Hayden Christensen, who portrayed Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and briefly donned the life support suit, was going to be portraying Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, according to this Entertainment Weekly piece, no one is willing to confirm that James Earl Jones will also be back. 

Darth Vader

On one hand, this feels strange. James Earl Jones is such an integral part of the mythos of Star Wars that it is hard to imagine it continuing on without him, or him being recast by some random voice actor. On the other hand, Jones is 91 years old. While he has apparently been up for returning as the voice of Darth Vader for Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker, and showed up in the semi-live action remake of The Lion King to give Mufasa some oomph, his roles have been understandably slowing down. At this point, Walt Disney Studios have most certainly sat down and put some thought into what they are going to do about the problem of Vader’s voice once Jones (hopefully not soon) passes away. Short of making Jones sit down in a room and read a dictionary aloud (plus a Star Wars dictionary) to get vocal recordings that they can continue to mashup and mix through posterity, they are eventually going to have to recast. 

But who can say? It was recently confirmed that legendary film composer John Williams was returning to score Obi-Wan Kenobi, and that man is 90 years old. We can only hope that James Earl Jones will be around for a long time more, and the studio’s reluctance to confirm his involvement in further Star Wars projects is the result of contract negotiations or other behind-the-scenes activity. And regardless, we are excited for Obi-Wan Kenobi. So we will just have to wait to hear Darth Vader for the first time in the show, and figure out what they decided to do.