Over its 40-year run as a brand, Star Wars has left viewers with plenty of questions. Most recently, that’s been what the heck is a Porg? But perhaps the most persistent question is, who was the voice of Darth Vader?
The voice has become one of the best-known sounds in movie history, ranking right up there with the likes of the slashing sound effect from Psycho. Darth Vader might even be more compelling as a bad guy than Psycho’s Norman Bates because he has not only a chilling a voice but also ominous music that sets your teeth on edge whenever he comes on screen.
The new trilogy of Star Wars movies, which sees its newest chapter launch into theaters later this month, has introduced a whole new generation to the universe and its characters first imagined by George Lucas back in the 70s. But that means a lot of youngsters, who weren’t around for the opening days of Star Wars or didn’t grow up watching the originals with their parents, really have no context for answering the question, who was the voice of Darth Vader? After all, Vader is dead in their Star Wars movies.
Who was the voice of Darth Vader? Not your first guess
The obvious answer to who was the voice of Darth Vader is to point to the man under the mask, the actor on screen playing the dark lord. Unfortunately, that guess — understandable though it may be — would be wrong.
The man you see walking around on-screen under that heavy helmet is actor David Prowse. He gave a lot to that character. It was Prowse that brought life to Vader’s terrifying ability to choke people with the force, and its signature hand gesture. It was also Prowse that you see in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi during the Darth Vader death scene, in which his helmet is finally removed by Luke.
Listen carefully when his helmet is off, and you’ll hear the difference between Prowse’s voice (heard only without the head gear) and Darth Vader’s voice leading up to the removal of this signature piece of his get-up:
So, who was the voice of Darth Vader?
Darth Vader’s voice, as you know it with the mask on, is none other than legendary actor James Earl Jones. James Earl Jones is uncredited in the original Star Wars movies — you won’t find his name on the rolling credits at the end of the movie, despite the fact that his voice is so closely associated with the franchise.
Hear the unedited version of some of the film’s clips — before the voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader was added in. Again, the man you hear speaking is actor David Prowse, who performed the physical on-screen part of Darth Vader:
Now next time a friend asks who was the voice of Darth Vader — and perhaps doesn’t believe you when you tell them it was James Earl Jones, you can deliver a classic line in your best possible impression: I find your lack of faith disturbing.