With The Lion King, The Simpsons and a whole bag of trailers, voice-overs and narrations under his belt, James Earl Jones could well boast the most recognizable voice in Hollywood. He's been around the block a few times in his 60 year career (and we're only slightly referring to Driving Ms Daisy) but to many of us he will always be the CSSHHH-Cawww covered voice of our favourite Sith Lord.
So when Kathleen Kennedy announced the takeover that would eventually lead us to this casting news/set photos frenzy which we find ourselves in today, questions were asked as to whether Vader might return to the fold.
The character, of course, found his final resting place on a forest moon of Endor many years ago but there was always the possibility of an Obi-Wan style afterlife return, or even in one of these much discussed spin-offs. Now it seems that, for Jones at least, that particular ship has sailed. Speaking to Variety earlier this week:
Oh no. I’ve got no illusions that I will or even hankerings to be in them, but I’m very proud to have been part of the original (...)I have no idea where they’ll go with it, but I hope they sustain the success of the first ones and do it well.
And we were proud to have him. Ralph McQuarrie's iconic matt black Samurai suit was worn by a number of actors over the years- most famously by the 6'5'' David Prowse in the original three- but the voice behind the mask has been ever present. The brilliant spawn of a great number of minds, from the moment he first stepped foot on the Tantive IV, Vader simply dominated the screen.
Jones lent his muscular tones to Darth Vader for Lucas' original trilogy before his uncredited, and quite unfortunate, NOOOOOoooooo... in Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Although the actor still still finds it difficult to own up to that one:
You'd have to ask Lucas about that. I don't know.
A New Hope turned Vader into a cultural Icon overnight, and when he returned for The Empire Strikes Back he was more malevolent and assured then ever. A strange chamber pod; a cold hard stare; admiral Ozzel hits the deck; and we're back in that world again.
The nightmares grew for Luke during his training on Dagobah; Han and co. were captured on Cloud City; and we all know what came next. Not only the series' most iconic point, but one of The most iconic moments in popular culture.
Of all the people who dreamt Vader up (Lucas, McQuarrie, Prowse) It was James Earl Jones who was most instrumental in bringing the character to life. So while it's unfortunate (or perhaps not) that we wont get the chance to hear those dulcet tones (as Vader at least) again, we'll always have these peerless films to go back on, time and time again.
Have you got a favourite Vader moment? Do feel free to share it below.
[Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158) opens on December 18th next year.