James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones 2010.png
Biographical information

January 17, 1931


Arkabutla, Mississippi

Career information



The Lion King
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
The Lion King (2019 film)

One of the reasons that I took this job was because of the impression the drawings and animation had on me. It was really grand stuff. I also enjoy creating characters with just my voice. It reminded me of my early training in radio when I was in college. It's interesting to experiment and try it different ways until you get the right sound. I love the drama in the film and the way it resonates on other classic dramatic pieces such as Shakespeare's Hamlet.
―Jones, on working on The Lion King[1]

James Earl Jones is an Academy Award-nominated American actor best known for playing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise, Mufasa in The Lion King films, and for playing Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams. He is also recognized by his notable baritone voice.


Born in Arkabutla, Mississippi and raised in Manistee, Michigan, Jones attended the University of Michigan.[1] where he enrolled under a pre-medical major.[2] He soon joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps and excelled. During his tenure at the university, Jones discovered his lack of passion for medical studies. Transferring his major to theater, 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 graduated from the University in 1955.[3] During the rise of the Korean War, Jones worked in several positions in the U.S. Army until he was promoted to first lieutenant prior to his discharge.[4] Following his discharge, Jones then moved to New York, where he studied at the American Theatre Wing, working as a janitor to support himself.

After making his Broadway debut in 1953, Jones performed his first portrayal of Shakespeare's Othello in Ramsdell Theatre in 1955.[5] Jones would later make his film debut as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in 1964. For there on for more than forty years, Jones would perform on television, stage, and film. That same year, Jones would be nominated an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in an episode of Wikipedia:East Side/West Side. In 1970, Jones, in his breakthrough role, portrayed boxer Jack Jefferson in the biopic, The Great White Hope, reprising his Tony Award-winning role in the Broadway play. For his role, Jones was nominated Academy Award for Best Actor, making him the second African-American male performer (following Sidney Poitier) to receive a nomination.[2]

After continually performing in films, theater, and stage, Jones was hired to provide the voice for Darth Vader in Star Wars (later re-titled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). However, it was his decision to not be credited.[6] Jones would reprise the role in the franchise with his latest reprisal in Star Tours: The Adventure Continues at Walt Disney World. In 1987, Jones would garner another Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his performance in Fences. The following year, in 1988, he would portray King Jaffe Joffer alongside Madge Sinclair who portrayed his Queen in the popular film, Coming to America. Interesting, both actors previously played roles in the miniseries, Roots: The Next Generation.

In 1994, Jones provided the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King. Jones reprised his role in the 1998 sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride as well as the 2015 television film The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar. His voice was re-used in Kingdom Hearts II. Jones likened the role to an ancient Greek theater tradition, where the actors would wear masks, as "the masks are the animators drawings and we just simply supply all the behaviors, emotions and feelings behind that mask."[1]

[[Video:James Earl Jones On Playing Mufasa In THE LION KING|thumb|200px|right|Jones on Mufasa]]

From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, Jones constantly earned five nominations for his television roles; winning one for Outstanding Performer Children's Special for Summer's End. In recent times, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2011, and earned a Best Leading Actor in a Play nomination for his performance in Gore Vidal's play revival The Best Man.

Personal life

Jones was previously married to American actress / singer Julienne Marie; the couple had no children. Since 1982, Jones had been married to actress Cecilia Hart, until her death in 2016. They had one child named Flynn Earl Jones.


  • Conan the Barbarian - Thulsa Doom
  • Coming to America - King Jaffe Joffer
  • The Sandlot - Mr. Mertle
  • Field of Dreams- Terrence Mann
  • Star Wars trilogy - Darth Vader (voice)
  • Flight of Dragons - Omadon
  • Pinochio and the Emperor of the Night - Emperor
  • Freddie the Frog - Narrator
  • Adventure stories from the Bible - Pharaoh Ramses
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Darth Vader (voice)



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Lion King: Film Notes. lionking.org.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bandler, Michael J.. This is James Earl Jones. Northwest Airlines.
  3. Notable Alumni. University of Michigan.
  4. Soldiers to Celebrities: James Earl Jones – U.S. Army. Hollywood Hired Guns. Hired Guns Productions.
  5. Ramsdell Theatre History. Ramsdell-theater.org.
  6. Lovece, Frank. Fast Chat: James Earl Jones.
  7. NME

External links

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