Warning: SPOILERS for the Obi-Wan Kenobi episode “Chapter III” are ahead!
At the end of Obi-Wan Kenobi “Chapter II,” Ewan McGregor’s title character learned from Moses Ingram’s Third Sister that Anakin Skywalker had not died on Mustafar a decade ago like he thought. His former apprentice survived their fiery duel and was still enforcing the Empire’s will as Darth Vader. Fast-forward to “Chapter III,” while Lucasfilm remained mum on the subject in the lead-up to Obi-Wan Kenobi, James Earl Jones was credited as Vader’s in for the Star Wars series, while Hayden Christensen wore the Sith Lord’s distinctive armor. However, Jones’ Vader return may have aided by some digital magic used in other Star Wars projects.
Although James Earl Jones is credited in the latest episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi (which you can watch with a Disney+ subscription), later on, it’s said that “Voice Conversion Services” were provided by Respeecher. This is the same company that worked on digitally recreating Mark Hamill’s voice in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett to make him sound like he did in the early ‘80s. Hamill did appear on the sets of both of those Star Wars shows, but it took Respeecher’s work, de-aging technology and stand-in actors to bring to life a Luke who looked like he’d been plucked from Return of the Jedi.
For those unfamiliar with how Respeecher works, Alex Serdiuk, the company’s co-founder and co-CEO, talked back in March about how he and his team pulled recordings of Mark Hamill from sources like ADR sessions, video games and audiobooks from decades back, and then fed all that audio into its app. After new voices are introduced into Respeecher’s system, the data is converted to produce the new voice, and from there, different techniques can be applied to fulfill certain expectations or requests from a filmmaker, studio, etc. Serdiuk described his company’s technology as “very disruptive.”
Which brings us back to Obi-Wan Kenobi, because although James Earl Jones is credited as vocally reprising Darth Vader in “Chapter III,” the fact that Respeecher was credited could indicate that Vader’s dialogue in the episode was created entirely from scratch. After all, when the actor voiced Vader for 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, there was a notable difference between how he sounded in that project versus when he was voicing the character during the Original Trilogy as a result of old age. However, it’s also possible that the Respeecher tech could have been used to simply augment dialogue Jones recorded specifically for Obi-Wan Kenobi to make the character sound more like he would a little under a decade before the events of A New Hope, when he’s not as fully formed.
Maybe after Obi-Wan Kenobi concludes its run, the proverbial curtain will be pulled back on how Darth Vader’s dialogue was handled for the show. For now though, Star Wars fans can take comfort knowing Vader is back in play, with “Chapter III” showing him confronting Obi-Wan on Mapuzo and going so far as to set his old master on fire. We’re at the halfway point with this Star Wars series, so keep visiting CinemaBlend for updates on what unfolds in the latter half, as well as news concerning other upcoming Star Wars movies and TV shows.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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