Darth Vader Now Voiced by Artificial Intelligence
Darth Vader, the villain of the Star Wars franchise, is now voiced by artificial intelligence after the retirement of actor James Earl Jones.
Jones, who is 91 years old, has voiced the helmeted menace since 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (originally titled Star Wars). His voice as Darth Vader was last heard in the 2019 film The Rise of Skywalker.
The space opera will now use an AI replication of Jones’s voice, created by Ukrainian start-up Respeecher. The voice was first heard in the show Obi Wan Kenobi.
Respeecher is not new to AI voices or Star Wars, having created the voice of a young Luke Skywalker for the show The Book of Boba Fett.
Bogdan Belyaev, a synthetic-speech artist at Respeecher, explained what the work was like while facing a Russian invasion: “If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound. So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February…. Why did I do it? It’s a big honor to work with Lucasfilm, and I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I was a kid. Even if it’s war, there’s no excuse for you to be the troublemaker of what you loved from childhood.”
While Star Wars makes news for using AI for voices, a debut filmmaker, Fabian Stelzer, is using AI to create short films he releases on Twitter. Salt also relies on other Twitter uses to determine the path of the films, making a sort of “choose your own adventure” series.
Journalist Rachel Metz stated, “Just as AI image generators have already unnerved some artists, Stelzer’s experiment offers an early example of how disruptive AI systems could be to moviemaking. As AI tools that can produce images, text, and voices are becoming more powerful and accessible, it could change how we think about idea generation and execution — challenging what it means to create and be a creator. Although the following for these videos is limited, some in the tech space are watching closely and expect more to come.”
1. What do you think about AI being used to continue a character’s voice when an actor leaves? What about using AI voices instead of ever casting humans? Explain your answer(s).
2. How else could AI be used in movies to continue iconic characters after their human counterparts have retired or died? Explain your answer(s).
3. Is AI good for society? Think about the arts, sciences, everyday life, etc. Explain your answer(s).
Anthony Breznican, “Darth Vader’s Voice Emanated From War-Torn Ukraine,” vanityfair.com, Sep. 23, 2022
Rachel Metz, “This Guy Is Using AI to Make a Movie — and You Can Help Decide What Happens Next,” cnn.com, Sep. 25, 2022
Chelsea Steiner, “James Earl Jones Retires as the Voice of Darth Vader,” themarysue.com, Sep. 25, 2022