Having just seen Darth Vader in the third episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, I half expected a modulated version of Hayden Christensen’s voice instead of the usual James Earl Jones, but no. Christensen does not voice Darth Vader, but he is in the suit.
What’s unclear is in what capacity we might see Christensen in future episodes. Will there be flashback scenes depicting Anakin Skywalker or will things remain as they are? We won’t know until the rest of the series is released.
The cynic in me is asking myself whether Lucasfilm cast Christensen as Vader purely as a marketing tool. The prequels are getting some love nowadays and fans of the memes love seeing Christensen return in interviews and other promo for the show. But is that the only time we really see him? We got one snippet of his face, but will we get more?
Many people don’t know that David Prowse is in the Vader suit in the originals because we can neither hear his voice nor see his face. Which is fine, that’s part of the Vader mystique, but why cast Hayden Christensen at all? Yes, he did play Anakin, but here is he a stunt double or an actor?
The show may still have a couple of surprises up its sleeve, so we might actually see Christensen actually voice the role, but I have my doubts.
I was actually incredibly curious what they would do with Vader with Christensen behind the mask, but really, it’s the same deal as before. I thought maybe because James Earl Jones’ voice has aged along with the actor that Disney would move on from using his voice but given their penchant for reviving actors from the dead, I don’t even think Jones’ death will stop them from using his voice for Vader.
Interestingly, they did address Jones’ aging voice in Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the credits for episode three, it’s stated that the company Respeecher provided “voice conversation services.” They don’t say on whose voice they used this, but it is likely to be Jones’.
Respeecher augments new dialogue, or uses an archive of existing dialogue, to create a voice. That’s why Vader sounds just like he did in the original trilogy, because it’s a digitally improved version of Jones’ voice.
They did the same thing for Mark Hamill in Book of Boba Fett to make the actor sound more like he did in the original trilogy.
It’s sad that Lucasfilm can’t or won’t move on. They’ve stated that they aren’t interested in recasting major characters like they did in Solo, which sucks because of all the problems with that movie, Alden Ehrenreich as Han wasn’t one of them. What this means is that we can expect more of this voice de-aging going into the future.
Who knows, maybe even Darth Vader will be voiced completely with AI in the future? More machine than man indeed.
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