An AI program voiced Darth Vader in ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ so James Earl Jones could finally retire

After 45 years as the voice actor of one of the most famous characters in cinema history, James Earl Jones has said goodbye to Darth Vader. At 91, the legendary actor recently told Disney he wants to “wind up this particular character.” That forced the company to ask, how do you even replace Jones? The answer, which Disney eventually settled on, with the actor’s approval, involved an AI program.

If you’ve watched any recent Star Wars shows, you’ve heard Respeecher’s work. It’s a Ukrainian startup that uses archival footage and a “proprietary AI algorithm” to create new dialogue with the voices of “performers from a long time ago.” In Jones’ case, the company worked with Lucasfilm to recreate his voice as it sounded when film audiences first heard Darth Vader in 1977.

Corresponding , Jones had signed off on Disney using recordings of his voice and Respeecher’s software to “keep Vader alive”. Lucasfilm veteran Matthew Wood told the outlet that James directed the Sith Lord’s performance Obi Wan Kenobiwho acted as a “benevolent godfather”, but ultimately it was the AI ​​that gave Vader his voice in many scenes.

While there’s a lot to be said for preserving Vader’s voice, Disney’s decision to use AI to do so is likely to fuel disagreements over how this technology should be used in creative fields. For example, Getty Images recently had art about . With Jones, there’s a chance we’ll be able to hear Vader speaking long after he’s dead.

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