A resurfaced clip from the American Film Institute reveals that ‘Star Wars’ director George Lucas paid actor James Earl Jones just $7,000 to voice Darth Vader in the first-ever ‘Star Wars’ film.
Actor David Prowse – who died in 2020 at the age of 85 – famously wore the suit of Darth Vader in 1977’s ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, but Lucas didn’t envision his natural voice for the now iconic character.
“George wanted, excuse the expression, a dark voice,” Jones said. “So he hires a Mississippi-born, Michigan-raised man who stutters. And this is the voice. This is me.”
Jones didn’t complain about the paycheck in the interview. In fact, he was fascinated by the four characters.
“I got lucky, out of all these so-called handicaps, for a $7,000 job! I thought that was good money,” Jones told AFI. “And I need to be a voice in a movie!”
Jones also said he and Lucas disagreed about how Darth Vader should sound in the movie sequel The Empire Strikes Back.
Jones wanted to change things up and make Vader’s voice behind the mask “more subtle” and “more psychologically oriented,” “but Lucas didn’t see it that way,” the 91-year-old actor said.
“He said, ‘We don’t know what we did right, so let’s just try what we did … What we find out is that because he’s not human, you have to keep his voice on a very narrow tape. really,” Jones recalled to Lucas, 77.
Jones returned to the franchise decades later to once again lend his voice to Star Wars: Rogue One.