James Earl Jones has one of the most unique voices in Hollywood and has become a respected actor, but did you know he used to stutter? Most of his fans would never guess that this commanding figure of movies had problems speaking when he was younger.
At 83-years-old, James Earl Jones is not slowing down, and he recently signed on the bring the classic Star Wars character, Darth Vader, to life once again. Not only that, he is back on Broadway in a revival of the 1936 comedy, You Can’t Take It With You — his first comedy.
But how did the talented actor overcome personal demons to persevere and become one of the most recognizable voices of them all? In an interview with PBS, the actor recalls that in 1969 he became the first actor to guest-star in an episode of the kids show Sesame Street and hasn’t stop lending his voice ever since.
Who hasn’t heard the famous line, “I am your father,” when audiences were shocked to find out the evil Darth Vader didn’t actually kill Luke Skywalker’s father, but was the man himself. Nobody was more shocked than Luke, who fell to what he probably thought was his death.
But for all this fame and recognition, James Earl Jones confessed he has difficulty expressing himself. The seemingly confident actor says that in social situations, it can be stressful for him.
“Oh, at parties, yeah. I’m– I’m good at listening. That I learned well. And– keepin’ up– is– could be– can be a chore.”
His issues with communicating began when he was a child. Jones admittedly had a difficult upbringing after his father abandoned the family when he was young, and he was raised mostly by his grandparents in Mississippi and on a farm in Michigan.
“People would come to the house and there’d be introductions made and I couldn’t introduce myself. I found it was oh, so good sometimes because silence isn’t bad. It’s good to listen. And I learned to listen.”
After a teacher helped him to get over his stuttering by making him read poetry in front of the class. After leaving the Army in the early 1950s, Jones decided to take a chance in New York theater.”Suddenly, I began to put it together. And it’s quite wonderful.” the actor says.
But the stuttering hasn’t left James Earl Jones altogether and he struggles with the issue to this day. However, the versatile actor hasn’t let this hold him back. He is the winner of three Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards and an honorary Academy Award.
For all his recognition on screen and on stage, the one role that audiences identify James Earl Jones with is that of Darth Vader, which was probably one of the easiest parts he ever played. Jones reveals it took him only two-and-a-half hours to record his part in the 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope.
James Earl Jones has come a long way from his humble beginnings, and even though he hasn’t completely rid himself of that stuttering, he hasn’t let it control his life and continues to deliver outstanding roles time and time again.
[Image via galleryhip.com]