Life imitates art as James Earl Jones hands Darth Vader voice rights over to the Disney empire

darth vader obi wan kenobi
via Lucasfilm

As everyone knows, Anakin Skywalker found himself corrupted by the Dark Side of the Force, which eventually saw him assume the role of Darth Vader. To do so, he had to give up every ounce of himself and fully commit to his new persona, which involved machine-assisted hardware taking over a large part of his existence. Looking at the latest developments to affect the sci-fi saga’s most iconic villain, who says life doesn’t imitate art when it comes to far-fetched fare like Star Wars?

A recent report from Vanity Fair revealed that a line had been drawn under a long-running association between a legendary actor and an equally legendary character, with 91 year-old titan of stage and screen James Earl Jones signing over the voice rights to Darth Vader to Disney, Lucasfilm, and Respeecher – the company who recreated his sonorous tones for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

That’s right; Jones will no longer lend his talents to the fearsome Sith in future Star Wars projects, but the studio is now well within its rights to have Darth Vader make as many voice cameos as humanly possible, and he’ll sound exactly the same after a touch of AI manipulation.

As you can imagine, fans have plenty to say about the veteran star allowing the Disney empire to continue mining his soundbites in perpetuity.

We’ve had 45 years of Darth Vader performances across countless forms of media already, but it looks as though we’re not done. Between Jones approving the use of his vocal likeness and Mark Hamill being repeatedly deepfaked to return as prime-era Luke Skywalker, then, is Star Wars ever going to leave the past behind and move forward?