James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones (born January 17, 1931) is a multi-award-winning American actor of theater and film, well known for his distinctive bass voice and for his portrayal of characters of substance, gravitas and leadership. He is known for providing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise and the tagline for CNN. James Earl Jones was born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, the son of Ruth (née Connolly) and Robert Earl Jones. At the age of five, he moved to Jackson, Michigan, to be raised by his maternal grandparents, but the adoption was traumatic and he developed a stutter so severe he refused to speak aloud. When he moved to Brethren, Michigan in later years a teacher at the Brethren schools started to help him with his stutter. He remained functionally mute for eight years until he reached high school. He credits his high school teacher, Donald Crouch, who discovered he had a gift for writing poetry, with helping him out of his silence. Jones attended the University of Michigan where he was a pre-med major. While there, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and excelled. During the course of his studies, Jones discovered he was not cut out to be a doctor. Instead he focused himself on drama, with the thought of doing something he enjoyed, before, he assumed, he would have to go off to fight in the Korean War. After four years of college, Jones left without his degree. In 1953 he found a part-time stage crew job at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan, which marked the beginning of his acting career. During the 1955–1957 seasons he was an actor and stage manager. He performed his first portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello in this theater in 1955. After his discharge from the Military, Jones moved to New York, where he attended the American Theatre Wing to further his training and worked as a janitor to earn a living. His first film role was as a young and trim Lt. Lothar Zogg, the B-52 bombardier in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in 1964. His first big role came with his portrayal of boxer Jack Jefferson in the film version of the Broadway play The Great White Hope, which was based on the life of boxer Jack Johnson. For his role, Jones was nominated Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, making him the second African-American male performer (following Sidney Poitier) to receive a nomination. In 1969, Jones participated in making test films for a proposed children's television series; these shorts, combined with animated segments were the beginnings of the Sesame Street format. The next year, in the early 1970s, James appeared with Diahann Carroll in the film called Claudine. While he has appeared in many roles, he is well known as the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Darth Vader was portrayed in costume by David Prowse in the original trilogy, with Jones dubbing Vader's dialogue in postproduction due to Prowse's strong West Country accent being unsuitable for the role. At his own request, he was originally uncredited for the release of the first two films (he would later be credited for the two in the 1997 re-release).  His other voice roles include Mufasa in the 1994 film Disney animated blockbuster The Lion King, and its direct-to-video sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. He also has done the CNN tagline, "This is CNN", as well as "This is CNN International", and the Bell Atlantic tagline, "Bell Atlantic: The heart of communication". When Bell Atlantic became Verizon, Jones used the tagline greeting of "Welcome to Verizon" or "Verizon 411" right before a phone call would go through. The opening for NBC's coverage of the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics; "the Big PI in the Sky" (God) in the computer game Under a Killing Moon; a Claymation film about The Creation; and several guest spots on The Simpsons. In addition to his film and voice over work, Jones is an accomplished stage actor as well; he has won Tony awards in 1969 for The Great White Hope and in 1987 for Fences. Othello, King Lear, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Abhorson in Measure for Measure, and Claudius in Hamlet are Shakespearean roles he has played. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. Jones has been married to actress Cecilia Hart since 1982. They have one child, Flynn Earl Jones. He was previously married to American actress/singer Julienne Marie (born March 21, 1933, Toledo, Ohio); they had no children. Jones is a registered Republican.

YearTitleCharacterRelease Date
2019

The Lion King

Mufasa2019-12-31
2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Darth Vader (voice)2016-12-14
2015

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar

Mufasa (voice)2015-11-22
2015
Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal
Darth Vader (voice)2015-04-18
2015
August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand
2015-02-20
2014

Driving Miss Daisy

Hoke Colburn2014-06-04
2014

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Ruben2014-05-23
2013

Gimme Shelter

Frank McCarthy2013-10-17
2013
Muse of Fire
Himself2013-09-26
2013
Blackfish
Himself (archive footage)2013-06-07
2013
Milius
Himself2013-03-09
2012
Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey
Admiral (voice)2012-12-02
2009
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Giant (voice)2009-11-06
2008
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
Papa Jenkins2008-02-08
2007
Earth
Narrator2007-04-22
2006
Vader Sessions
Darth Vader2006-08-25
2005
The Reading Room
2005-11-04
2005
The Story of Star Wars
Darth Vader2005-08-18
2005
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Darth Vader (voice)2005-05-17
2005
The Sandlot 2
Mr. Mertle2005-05-03
2005
Robots
Voice Box at Hardware Store (voice)2005-03-11
2005
By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X
Narrator2005-02-08
2004
Nine Dog Christmas
Narrator2004-10-05
2004
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy
Himself2004-09-12
2004
Black Indians: An American Story
Narrator2004-01-01
2003
The Great Year
Narrator2003-08-01
2001
Muhammad Ali - Through The Eyes Of The World
2001-11-19
2001
Feast of All Saints
Older Marcel2001-11-11
2001
American Legends
Narrator2001-02-12
2001
Finder's Fee
Avery Phillips2001-01-01
2000
Summer's End
Dr. William 'Bill' Blakely2000-04-18
2000
Conan Unchained: The Making of 'Conan'
Himself2000-01-01
1999
Fantasia 2000
Host1999-12-31
1999
Santa and Pete
James Earl Jones1999-12-05
1999
Undercover Angel
The Judge1999-05-16
1999
Our Friend, Martin
Daddy King (voice)1999-01-12
1999
The Annihilation of Fish
Fish1999-01-01
1998
The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride
Mufasa (voice)1998-10-24
1998
Merlin
Mountain King1998-04-26
1997
Alone
Grey1997-12-21
1997
What the Deaf Man Heard
Archibald Thacker1997-11-23
1997
Gang Related
Arthur Baylor1997-10-08
1997
The Second Civil War
Jim Kalla1997-03-15
1997
Afro Promo
Himself (archive footage)1997-01-31
1996
Timepiece
Lawrence1996-12-22
1996
Looking For Richard
Himself/Interview1996-10-11
1996
A Family Thing
Ray Murdock1996-03-29
1996
Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault
Dr. McDuffie1996-01-01
1995
Cry, the Beloved Country
Rev. Stephen Kumalo1995-12-15
1995
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies
1995-06-05
1995
The Making of 'Jurassic Park'
Host1995-05-09
1995
Jefferson in Paris
Madison Hemings1995-03-31
1995
Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable
Mufasa (voice)1995-01-21
1994
Clear and Present Danger
Admiral James Greer1994-08-03
1994
The Lion King
King Mufasa1994-06-23
1994
Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics
Host1994-05-11
1994
Clean Slate
John Dolby1994-05-06
1994
Africa: The Serengeti
Narrator1994-03-31
1994
The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult
Himself1994-03-18
1994
The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult
James Earl Jones1994-03-18
1994
Confessions: Two Face of Evil
Charles Lloyd1994-01-17
1994
The Vernon Johns Story
1994-01-15
1993
Michael Jackson - Dangerous - The Short Films
Himself (Superbowl Heal The World) Voice1993-09-28
1993
The Meteor Man
Earnest Moses1993-08-06
1993
Excessive Force
Jake1993-05-14
1993
The Sandlot
Mr. Mertle1993-04-07
1993
Sommersby
Judge Barry Conrad Issacs1993-02-05
1992
Lincoln
1992-12-26
1992
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama
Narrator (English)1992-12-05
1992
Sneakers
NSA Agent Bernard Abbott1992-09-09
1992
Patriot Games
Adm. James Greer1992-06-04
1991
True Identity
Himself1991-07-23
1991
Scorchers
Bear1991-07-07
1991
Convicts
Ben Johnson1991-01-01
1990
Grim Prairie Tales
Morrison1990-09-14
1990
Ivory Hunters
Inspector Nkuru1990-08-20
1990
Heat Wave
Junius Johnson1990-08-13
1990
Last Flight Out
Al Topping1990-05-22
1990
By Dawn's Early Light
Looking Glass General - 'Alice'1990-05-19
1990
The Ambulance
Lt. Spencer1990-03-31
1990
The Hunt for Red October
Admiral James Greer1990-03-02
1990
Teach 109
Dr. Winston1990-01-01
1989
Best of the Best
Frank Couzo1989-11-10
1989
Field of Dreams
Terrence Mann1989-04-21
1989
Three Fugitives
Dugan1989-01-27
1989
Stories to Remember: Noah's Ark
Narrator1989-01-01
1988
Terrorgram
Retribution (voice)1988-08-08
1988
Coming to America
King Jaffe Joffer1988-06-28
1987
Matewan
'Few Clothes' Johnson1987-08-28
1987
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night
Emperor of the Night (voice)1987-08-06
1987
Gardens of Stone
Sgt. Maj.'Goody' Nelson1987-05-05
1986
Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold
Umslopogaas1986-12-17
1986
Soul Man
Professor Banks1986-10-24
1986
My Little Girl
Ike Bailey1986-08-31
1985
The Atlanta Child Murders
Major Walker1985-02-10
1984
The Vegas Strip War
Jack Madrid1984-11-25
1984
City Limits
Albert1984-01-01
1983
Return of the Jedi
Voice of Darth Vader (voice)1983-05-23
1982
Blood Tide
Frye1982-09-01
1982
The Flight of Dragons
Omadon1982-08-17
1982
Conan the Barbarian
Thulsa Doom1982-04-02
1981
The Bushido Blade
The Prisoner1981-11-20
1981
The Creation
Narrator1981-01-01
1980
The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story
Dane Oliver1980-05-25
1980
The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader (Voice)1980-05-17
1980
Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones
Father Divine1980-04-15
1978
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Darth Vader (voice)1978-12-01
1977
A Piece of the Action
Joshua Burke1977-10-07
1977
Exorcist II: The Heretic
Older Kokumo1977-06-17
1977
The Last Remake of Beau Geste
Sheikh1977-06-15
1977
Star Wars
Voice of Darth Vader (voice)1977-05-25
1977
The Greatest
Malcolm X1977-05-17
1977
Jesus of Nazareth
Balthasar1977-01-01
1976
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
Leon Carter1976-07-16
1976
The River Niger
Johnny Williams1976-04-14
1976
Deadly Hero
Rabbit Shazam1976-02-15
1976
Swashbuckler
Nick Debrett1976-01-01
1975
The UFO Incident
Barney Hill1975-10-20
1974
The Cay
Timothy1974-10-24
1974
Claudine
Roop1974-04-22
1972
The Man
Douglass Dilman1972-07-19
1972
Malcolm X
Biographical Narration (voice)1972-05-24
1970
The Great White Hope
Jack Jefferson1970-10-11
1970
King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis
1970-03-24
1970
End of the Road
Doctor D1970-02-10
1967
The Comedians
Dr. Magiot1967-10-31
1964
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Lt. Lothar Zogg1964-01-29
1969
Beneath the Surface: The Making of 'The Hunt for Red October'
Himself