Who is the Voice of Darth Vader?
At playground scuffles and the grandest of stages, Darth Vader’s iconic line in ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ echoes decades after its utterance. But who is the voice of Darth Vader? The man behind the magnificent delivery is James Earl Jones, but understanding the story behind Darth Vader’s voice goes much deeper.
History of Darth Vader
Long before James Earl Jones was a part of the Star Wars franchise, another actor took on the dark mantle of Darth Vader.
Darth Vader is played in the original trilogy by the late David Prowse. In the original version of the film, he not only physically acted as Darth Vader but also spoke all of Darth Vader’s lines.
However, his Scottish accent was seen as comedic by not only director George Lucas but also his co-stars. Allegedly, his accent was so distinct that co-star Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher called Prowse ‘Darth Farmer’.
To better deliver on the gravity of Darth Vader’s villainy, a deeper and more intimidating voice was required. Lucas found this voice in James Earl Jones.
Vader’s Growth in Popularity
Decades after the release of the original 1977 film that earned the franchise its name, Star Wars continues to reign supreme in the entertainment industry. ‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ is the third highest-grossing film of all time, bringing in over two billion dollars.
There are currently nine mainline Star Wars films, multiple spin-off films like ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Solo’, TV shows like ‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘The Clone Wars’, and countless other media properties that continue the story of the Skywalkers and their world.
And- spoiler alert- the story of the Skywalkers is the story of Darth Vader. That famous line- ‘No, I am your father’- turned the series on its head and left fans clamoring for more even after the original trilogy’s conclusion.
In the ’70s and ’80s, Star Wars ruled the media across the board. The years between the second and third film left plenty of time for anticipation to build on the ramifications of Luke being, gasp! Darth Vader’s son. In this era especially, hunger grew for more information on Darth Vader and how Luke’s Jedi father became a Sith Lord.
The third film, ‘Return of the Jedi’, revealed some details but presented more questions than answers.
However, fans’ appetites would not go unsated for long. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, three Star Wars films were released. As these were set before the events of the original series, their existence triggered a retroactive renumbering of the original films.
The original Star Wars, now known as a ‘New Hope’, was christened Star Wars IV, making the two films following V and VI. The new entries in the Star Wars films were referred to as movies I through III or one through three.
These prequel films focus on Darth Vader’s origins, but the aging James Earl Jones was unsuitable to play a young man. This is how Darth Vader gained his second and third voice.
Who Has Voiced Vader?
Hayden Christensen plays Anakin Skywalker for the majority of the prequel films. However, there is another actor who plays the young version of Anakin Skywalker, setting up the corruption of an innocent child into the Sith Lord.
The child version of Anakin Skywalker was played by former actor Jake Lloyd. He appeared in only one film, The Phantom Menace. However, he lent his voice to several Star Wars video games at the turn of the millennium.
Though Jake Lloyd never officially wore the mantle, or mask, of Darth Vader, his performance as Anakin Skywalker cements him as a link in the legacy of the infamous villain.
For the remainder of the series, from Vader’s teenage years on, Hayden Christensen portrays Anakin Skywalker and, eventually, Darth Vader. Since the release of the prequel films, both Christensen and Jones have been known to portray various iterations of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in assorted Star Wars media.
Vader in the Modern Age
In the new Obi-Wan Kenobi show on Disney+, Hayden Christensen reprises his role as Darth Vader. It’s unclear how the voice for Vader is achieved in this new series. Many fans assumed that the lines were recorded by James Earl Jones while Hayden Christensen physically acted.
However, the credits of the program indicate that there is some technology trickery afoot. Christensen did in fact speak the lines, which were then altered to more closely mirror James Earl Jone’s iconic stylings. Still, other sources claim that the ninety-one-year-old Jones did in fact record the lines himself.
Vader’s Best Quotes or Videos
When it comes to appreciating the voice of Darth Vader, fans are spoiled for choice. Here are some of the best quotes and videos featuring Darth Vader and the people who have voiced him.
The iconic line that changed Star Wars canon forever. In this scene, an injured Luke screams in defiance against his newly revealed father.
In this Disney XD series, Darth Vader is in full tyrant mode, mocking and demeaning underlings left and right. His sheer cruelty manifests as physical to the protagonists of the series, made impotent against his radiating rage.
James Earl Jones On Using His Darth Vader Voice In Public
In this interview, James Earl Jones reveals that he once pranked truckers during a cross-country drive. Using his CB radio, he would speak as Darth Vader, menacingly greeting truckers and other CB radio users. He also emphasizes how difficult it is for people of color to work in the entertainment industry, especially Black Americans and Asian Americans.
Episode II, Attack of the Clones “I Don’t Like Sand”
In this masterful clip from Hayden Christensen, Anakin Skywalker proclaims his hatred for the terrain of his home planet. These lines and the gravity Christensen lends them foreshadow the eventual destruction of his home of Tattooine in the reign of terror to come.