Star Wars fans recognize James Earl Jones as the unmistakable voice of Darth Vader in the Original Trilogy. Though it’s safe to say that even without being credited with bringing one of the greatest villains in the history of fiction to life, the legendary star, with a rich portfolio of work spanning several decades, easily ranks among the greatest actors of all time.
When A New Hope originally premiered in 1977, George Lucas introduced us to a new breed of antagonistic characters that were all but finding their footing in the world of cinema. The sinister apprentice to Emperor Palpatine was as charismatic as he was menacing, embodying everything that audiences expected to see in a big bad, not to mention that his characterization and ultimate redemption contributed to one of the most compelling character arcs in the medium. But I think we can all agree that Vader wouldn’t be as impactful and iconic as he is today without Jones’ distinguished voice and talent.
The actor, who has won many an award for his contributions to the world of arts, including three Tony Awards, two Emmys, and a Grammy, celebrates his 90th birthday today. And as you’d imagine, fans of the galaxy far, far away and other colleagues and artists have been paying tribute to the thespian on social media, as you can see below.
Happy Birthday #JamesEarlJones, 90 today. A great actor with a distinctive voice, Earl Jones' movie debut was Dr. Strangelove (1964). He's well known as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars series & Mufasa in The Lion King (1994). He's also great in Coming To America (1988). pic.twitter.com/xGT1GSUXoR
— All The Right Movies (@right_movies) January 17, 2021
Wishing a very Happy Birthday to the legendary JAMES EARL JONES! I think my first movie with Jones was CONAN: his Thulsa Doom had such a commanding, imposing presence even if there were little to no lines, if I recall it correctly. pic.twitter.com/myL0wo3DXY
— Francesco Francavilla (@f_francavilla) January 17, 2021
"Once you begin to explain or excuse all events on racial grounds, you begin to indulge in the perilous mythology of race" -James Earl Jones. Happy Worthday @jamesearljones #DayofGiants pic.twitter.com/WOtsDoXb25
— Regina King (@ReginaKing) January 17, 2021
He’s got the most iconic voice in the galaxy. Leave birthday wishes for James Earl Jones below. pic.twitter.com/MuX79fwqX0
— Star Wars UK (@StarWarsUK) January 17, 2021
To my mentor and inspiration: Happy 90th Birthday to James Earl Jones. One of the greatest artist of our generation. May you be continuously blessed. pic.twitter.com/qxQv525gCE
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) January 17, 2021
James Earl Jones on asking not to be credited for voicing Darth Vader: “When it came to Darth Vader, no, I'm just special effects. But it became so identified that by the third one, I thought, OK I'll let them put my name on it.” Jones even told people he didn’t voice Vader. pic.twitter.com/a3KM1qCOeP
— Star Wars Holocron (@sw_holocron) January 17, 2021
Happy 90th Birthday to the GAWD and ICON, James Earl Jones! ? pic.twitter.com/9AGhhcGP3P
— Twitch.tv/ForAllNerds (@ForAllNerds) January 17, 2021
Happy Birthday to 2 legends – Betty White & James Earl Jones ?? pic.twitter.com/nIyETpgeOH
— Fandom (@getFANDOM) January 17, 2021
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Jones’ other significant credits include 1964’s Dr. Strangelove and voicing Mufasa in the original Lion King in 1994 and the remake. He also received much acclaim for his roles in Conan the Barbarian, Field of Dreams and Shakespearean plays like Othello, Hamlet and King Lear.
As for Star Wars, the actor last reprised Vader in Rogue One, though fans still want to see more of him in the future of the franchise. Hopefully, then, the House of Mouse will ask him back soon enough, especially since the rumor mill seems to favor the prospects of his return.