Guys, I'm both heavily mouthbreathing in sheer, nerdy excitement over some casting news while simultaneously doing a great tribute to one of my favorite Star Wars characters: the ever-underrated Darth Vader. Entertainment Weekly has reported that the Rogue One's Darth Vader — because, you know, he's been confirmed to appear in the film and all — will be voiced by the original voice actor. In their interview with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Kennedy relented and said “I think we can talk about Vader…” Yes, yes, let's talk about Vader. OG Star Wars fans are leaning in, their hearts open and their hopes high, and they are not going to be disappointed.
We now know that, "At 85, James Earl Jones will also reprise his role as Vader’s foreboding voice, while a variety of large-framed performers will embody the character behind the mask. (David Prowse, now 80, was often inside the suit in the original trilogy.)" This is all sorts of huge. While I'm a huge fan of the way the new Star Wars films are challenging tradition by casting lots of non-white male characters as the leads, it shows that the makers of the movies are aware that when it comes to a franchise as big as this, tradition is still key when it comes to the details — like Darth Vader's iconic voice.
And Earl Jones is a consummate professional: he's been described as "one of the greatest actors in American history." Can you believe how un-scary he looks for a man who possesses such a seriously eery voice?
This casting is great news for fans who may have been concerned that Disney's 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm, and Star Wars with it, might mark a break with tradition when it comes to the new movies. Sure, David Prowse (the body actor for Darth Vader) won't be reprising the role, but at 80 years old, that would be a little trickier than lending your voice, so we can let them off the hook with this one, right? After all, while anybody can get inside that mask, Darth Vader's voice is too distinctive to change up.
Still, this news probably won't come as a shock to those who have watched The Force Awakens. The film was a delight for Star Wars fans who had endured the less-than-thrilling early aughties sequels: this was the first sequel that had, if not quite all the heart and charisma of the '70s originals, something very close to it, appealing to both old and new fans.
So a huge thumbs up to the Star Wars casting team for a decision that will come as very welcome news to long-time fans and give the new movies a bold stamp of authenticity.
Images: Lucasfilm; Walt Disney Motion Pictures; Giphy