The stammering voice of Vader
James Earl Jones was born in 1931 in Arkabutla, Mississipi. The child, abandoned by his father, was adopted by his grandparents and grew up in Michigan.
As a young boy, he had a stammer so bad that he could barely speak, until at last a high school teacher forced him to recite poems in public. That apparently cured him, and his voice grew strong and spread across the world.
Jones studied acting in New York and became noticed as a good Shakespeare interpreter. He slowly worked his way up to Broadway, before he was whisked off to Hollywood and Dr. Strangelove. He did not abandon the stage, however, and before his voice appeared in Star Wars, he also had a major success with the The Great White Hope. The play was later made into a movie and Jones was nominated for an Academy Award. He has won several other prizes of the kind, and received a National Medal of Arts in 1992.
James Earl Jones has played in and given voice to numerous films, series and documentaries of great variety. He has appeared in Patriot Games and Cry, the Beloved Country, he has been Darth Vader and King Mufasa. He is the voice of CNN and Bell Atlantic and has recorded readings of goodnight stories as well as the New Testament.
The actor is African-American
and cares deeply about racial issues. His first theatre company was Jean Genet
's The Blacks
, and he has later been involved with many productions dealing with black history
and activism. He played Alex Haley
in Roots: The Next Generation
and Malcolm X
in The Greatest
, for example.
Jones will give Darth Vader a voice once more in Episode III of Star Wars.
"I sometimes find it's a cliche about the calmness of my voice.
I find that children respond well, but dogs freak out and think I'm an enemy."