James Earl Jones deep and distinctive voice might have become one of the most definitive marks of Darth Vader throughout the Star Wars franchise, but the heavy-breathing Force-choking baddie could have sounded a whole lot different had George Lucas decided on a different voice actor for Vader.
Mental Floss brings back an interview with Lucas where the Star Wars creator recalled a time when James Earl Jones wasn’t really recognized as the iconic villain of the franchise. According to Lucas, deciding on Vader’s voice was really difficult, and at one point he had even considered Citizen Kane’s Orson Welles for the part.
“I created a villain,” Lucas said. "I knew the voice had to be very, very special. And I had to make a choice—a choice that was a tough choice, but an easy choice, really—between Orson Welles and James Earl Jones … [Jones] won hands down."
Not only did Jones' voice leave a lasting impression on the big screen, but Lucas was also afraid that Welles voice would be too recognizable and would ruin the idea of Vader for viewers.
"I understand that George did contact Orson Welles to read for the voice of Darth Vader before he contacted me," Jones shared in a separate interview, "I was out of work, and he said, 'Do you want a day's work?'"
Lucas really made the right choice though. The actor’s voice is so distinct, fans can only imagine Vader listening to Jones speak. Now, the mere echo of Jones' voice makes fans shudder. The Force is certainly strong in him.
Star Wars: Episode IX is set for release on December 20, 2019.