Happy birthday to the voice of Darth Vader, James Earl Jones! The venerated actor turns 86 years old today.
James Earl Jones was already a star of stage and screen by the time he voiced the dark lord of the Sith in Star Wars, and the rest of the original trilogy, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. With a Tony award in The Great White Hope in 1969, and on-camera roles in Dr. Strangelove and the film version of Great White Hope (which earned him an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Newcomer), when his voice emerged from behind that black mask, it was instantly recognizable.
The actor has continued his career on stage, on the small screen, and the big screen, with screen credits across seven decades. Recently, he’s returned to the vocal role of Darth Vader twice. He first came in for Star Wars Rebels season two, voicing Vader across several apperances throughout the season, culminating in a major showdown in the season finale between Vader and his former apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Next, he returned to the big screen as Darth Vader’s voice in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first standalone film in the saga, which is in theaters now, bringing the character full circle. He even got to deliver a pun as Vader!
In the genre entertainment world, Jones is best known (outside of Star Wars) for his roles as the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King and as Thulsa Doom, a villain in Conan the Barbarian opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also made guest appearances on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and The Big Bang Theory.
Happy Birthday to James Earl Jones. May the Force be with you.