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'Darth Vader' was a mute during childhood

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'Darth Vader' reveals secrets
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Voice of Darth Vader was a mute for nearly 10 years as a child
  • James Earl Jones suffered from a stutter as a boy but overcame it to star in over 100 films
  • Returned to the theater in 2008 to play Big Daddy in classic drama "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
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(CNN) -- Boy with stutter stops talking for ten years before going on to become one of the most revered voices in cinema history.

It is a script Hollywood would have been proud to pen. But there was no need as this is the story of James Earl Jones, arguably the most well-known voice in modern cinema.

The voice behind Darth Vader's mask in the "Star Wars" trilogy told CNN's Becky Anderson that from the ages of five to 14 he barely spoke a word.

"I stuttered so badly I gave up talking," Earl Jones said.

He remembers the misery his condition caused him and says he is indebted to an English teacher who helped give him the confidence to start speaking again.

"We were reading great literature, and the idea of being able to say those words really inspired me. I never expected to be able to write things like that, but I did want to enjoy saying them."

Although his father was an actor the idea of acting had not occurred to the teenage Earl Jones he says.

"But the English teacher encouraged me saying: 'if you like the words you've got to be able to say them'. That's what started it."

Despite voicing one of the most famous villains in film history, Earl Jones kept quiet about his contribution until Darth Vader was killed in "Return of the Jedi" -- the final installment of the original "Star Wars" trilogy.

He says it was fun to keep everyone guessing.

"It became a big mystery -- 'who was that inside the mask?'" he said. "They used to say it sounds like Geoffrey Holder [the Trinidadian actor who famously starred in the 1973 James Bond film "Live and Let Die"]. And I would say yes it does. Geoffrey has a slight Trinidadian accent. It was more fun denying it than it was admitting it until the episode where Darth dies. Then I accepted credit for it."

Earl Jones has starred or voiced in more than 100 films as well as being the voice of the CNN network but he is currently enjoying a highly successful return to the stage.

The Toni award-winning actor has been playing the role of Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams classic drama "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" since 2008.

The show ran on New York's Broadway for nealy two years before transferring to the Novello Theatre in London's West End in November last year.

 
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