James Earl Jones Only Paid $7000 To Voice Darth Vader


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“He hires a guy born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, who stutters. And that’s the voice.”

James Earl Jones may have created the iconic voice of Darth Vader — but he definitely wasn’t compensated how you’d expect!

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When the actor signed on for Star Wars: A New Hope back in the 1970s, he was only paid a few thousand dollars for the role…and he was actually really excited about the payday at the time.

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In a recently resurfaced AFI interview, James explained that he was cast when director George Lucas didn’t think the voice of the actor portraying Darth Vader fit the role.

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“George wanted, pardon the expression, a dark voice. So he hires a guy born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, who stutters. And that’s the voice. That’s me,” James explained.

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Lucasfilm Ltd. /Courtesy Everett Collection

James added that he felt that he “lucked out, from all these so-called handicaps” for the job which only paid him $7,000.

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He went on to say, “I thought that was good money. And I got to be a voice on a movie!”

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James was later invited to return for The Empire Strikes Back, but when George found out that James wanted to make Darth Vader “more subtle” and “more psychologically oriented,” he was immediately shot down.

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“He said, ‘We don’t know what we did right, so let’s just try what we did…What we’re finding out is you need to keep his voice on a very narrow band of inflection because he ain’t human, really,'” James recalled.

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Obviously, the iconic voice that James created in the first film has stood the test of time as he went on to voice Darth Vader in numerous other Star Wars flicks!

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