James Earl Jones Returns to Voice Darth Vader in OBI-WAN KENOBI

Here at Nerdist, we are very excited to have Hayden Christensen back in Star Wars, even if he spends all his time covered in Darth Vader armor—or in bacta tank prosthetics. Just his mere presence opposite Ewan McGregor in Obi-Wan Kenobi has a poignant meaning. After all, they were brothers. But our prequels-era Anakin Skywalker isn’t the only actor returning as the iconic character. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s third episode featured an iconic Star Wars voice. You know the one. Yes, James Earl Jones is back as the voice of Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

A close up of Darth Vader's mask in Obi-Wan Kenobi episode three

After breathing heavily in the bacta tank to close out episode two, Obi-Wan Kenobi episode three actually brings Vader into the fold. You see, he’s the one Reva is answering to—not the potentially dead Grand Inquisitor. It’s he who wants Kenobi… badly. As such, he has a lot to say. And not gonna lie, I got chills hearing the James Earl Jones speak, returning once again to the role of Darth Vader. While Obi-Wan Kenobi very specifically didn’t announce his return, there was never any real doubt in my mind that James Earl Jones wouldn’t voice Darth Vader again. (Okay, there was a little doubt but just a tiny bit. The man is 91, after all. Plus, he’s a legend so he can really do whatever he wants to.)

Darth Vader looking at flames in an image for the Obi-Wan Kenobi Easter Eggs and Star Wars references article (1)

In addition to the original Star Wars trilogy, James Earl Jones voiced the Sith Lord in Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One, in a handful of Rebels episodes, The Rise of Skywalker, and the LEGO Star Wars games. However, voice actors Scott Lawrence and Matt Sloan have also voiced the character in various video games.

With regard to Obi-Wan Kenobi, for all the chatter about Christensen under the mask, the Lucasfilm bosses never quite specified anything about The Voice. But you don’t not use one of the most iconic voices in cinema history—and arguably the world—if you have the option. And, of course, Lucasfilm and the creatives behind Obi-Wan Kenobi were well aware that bringing James Earl Jones back as Darth Vader would be a major moment.

Obi-Wan Kenobi looking sad for the James Earl Jones returns as Darth Vader article

Apologies to Zack Braff, who also voiced a role in the Obi-Wan Kenobi episode. But I feel like even he knows that a voice cameo will always play second fiddle when James Earl Jones is in the mix. And given how Darth Vader and Obi-Wan left things in episode three, we haven’t heard the last of him.

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