James Earl Jones’ booming voice is one of the most iconic sounds in cinema. From Mufasa in the Disney movie The Lion King to Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies, the acclaimed actor, is one of the few to be awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award (EGOT). However, despite his career-defining role as the Star Wars character, which includes infamous lines like “No, I am your father,” he never wanted to be credited for bringing the character to life.
As reported by Far Out magazine, Jones didn’t attach his voice to Vader until the final movie of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi. According to the outlet, this was done out of respect for the person who played Vader in the science fiction movies: British actor David Prowse.
At the time, Prowse expressed concern that his elaborate costume — including Vader’s mask — would mean that any lines he performed would be too muffled. But despite his hesitation, the outlet report that Prowse performed the lines anyway, with George Lucas reportedly telling him that he could re-record his lines in post-production.
Prowse’s lines were, eventually, re-recorded in post-production. But not by him. Instead, James Earl Jones was paid $7,500 to record all his lines in just two and a half hours.
According to Far Out magazine, another person was hired to do Vader’s voice because Prowse’s Devonshire accent was thought to be a poor fit for the science fiction movie, with crew members reportedly referring to him as ‘Darth Farmer.’
This is because Prowse’s thick Devonshire accent didn’t quite have the same terrifying effect as the one belonging to Jones – the crew went as far as to nickname Prowse the ‘Darth Farmer’. However, to this day, Jones is adamant that his voice acting is nothing more than “special effects.” Out of respect for Prowse, Jones refused to be credited for his work until the final movie of the original trilogy, pointing out that the actor “is Vader.”
This may have all gone down in the ’70s and ‘80s, but over on Disney Plus, the Star Wars IP is still going strong with the recent release of Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi and the upcoming Rogue One spin-off Andor.