Remember the first time you heard Darth Vader's voice? I was probably like 6, and it really freaked me out. Even though he wasn't behind the helmet, James Earl Jones brought an intimidating menace to the screen. As Vader has returned in other iterations of the story, Jones has returned as well. But as he gets older, and the character has somehow gotten younger, some changes have needed to be made with the voice.
And it's not just Vader. When Star Wars brought Luke Skywalker back for The Mandalorian, creators knew that Mark Hamill couldn't produce the dulcet tones he could in the 1980s. When we age, so does our voice.
So how do they handle these iconic characters whose voices can change? They have a tool called "Respeecher."
How does Respeecher work?
Basically, they take the voice of the character from every performance and outtake over the years, and across all mediums. Then A.I. replicates its sound and tenor to help fill in how the voice originally sounded.
Some critics have said the voices sound wooden, but I think it's hard to tell, since it's not like they are usually delivering long, powerful monologues. Most of the time it's a line here or there.
But the interesting thing I have found is that aside from crediting the actors for their voice performances, they also have to credit Respeecher. That means in the new Obi-Wan series, both James Earl Jones and Respeecher are credited as being the voice of Vader.
I am unsure what that means when it comes to the future of A.I. acting and performing in films, but I do think it means some of these famous voices will be alive forever. So maybe they need to make sure their kids have the life rights, so nefarious creators don't use them illegally after they're gone.
Lots to unpack here. Let me know what you think in the comments.