James Earl Jones has one of the most recognizable voices in Hollywood and with a career spanning five decades, you’ve likely heard or seen him in one movie or another. Many of his fans may not know this, but he started as a stage actor before spreading his wings in the entertainment industry.
James Earl Jones is one of America’s most celebrated actors. Although the star is now famously known for his deep voice, he once suffered from a stutter and almost went mute for eight years. James Earl Jones has a ton of recognizable roles in popular blockbuster movies like the Star Wars franchise films as Darth Vader and Mufasa in The Lion King.
This list contains only a few of his vocal performances, but he also has several good movies in his filmography. As this veteran actor turns 91, what better way to celebrate him than by ranking some of his best movies to date?
1. The Star Wars Films
No other character is as recognized in American cinema history as Darth Vader from the Star Wars films. Dare I say that one of the reasons this character is as popular in pop culture is because of James Earl Jones’s voice.
While Darth Vader’s voice may sound dark and menacing at first, James Earl Jones adds a touch of humanity behind the man in the shiny black mask. He was once a man anyway. James blessed Star Wars fans once again by reprising his role as Darth Vader in the iconic 2016 Star Wars: Rogue One. At 91, Jones has decided to retire from the role of Darth Vader. As sad as it will be to say goodbye to his iconic voice, we are thrilled to see what lies ahead for the character that he put so much time into.
2. The Lion King
In 1994 James added his voice to yet another legendary role of Mufasa in the Disney animated classic movie, The Lion King. If you grew up in the early 2000s, this movie was everywhere for years! The color, music, and Simba’s epic story in this film will always make it one of the best movies ever made.
It became so popular that it spawned dozens of Disney show spinoffs and even a live-action remake (2019’s The Lion King) with stars like Donald Glover and Beyoncé. Earl Jones returned to voice Mufasa in the remake. Who would let that Disney cheque go? Although the remake was made amidst controversial views from most people, nothing beats the original 1994 classic. In the film, James Earl Jones plays Mufasa, King of the pride lands, and prepares his son Simba to rule.
James’ powerful voice adds the authority that Mufasa needs, commanding the entire kingdom to a standstill. Although Mufasa doesn’t make it to the film’s end, his presence still lingers thanks to the power James Earl Jones brings to the character.
3. Coming to America
When Eddie Murphy was at the peak of his superstardom in Hollywood, he starred in the comedy film Coming to America. His father in the film was the talented James Earl Jones. Other notable names attached to the movie were actors like Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, and John Amos.
James Earl Jones plays King Jafee of Zamunda, who tries to convince his son Akeem (Eddie Murphy) to marry as soon as possible. James is convincing as a caring and loving father with only good intentions for the future King. Akeem gets into trouble while in New York, and as usual, his father arrives to clean up his son’s mess. King Jafee demands that Akeem return home to his kingdom and marry a woman he approves of. To know more about the film, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Coming to America.
4. The Sandlot
Very few movies will make an impact an entire generation like the one The Sandlot movie did. When social media wasn’t as influential, this classic movie effortlessly captured kids’ hearts worldwide. James Earl Jones appears in this baseball movie as Mr. Mertle. The film follows a group of friends who love playing baseball in the sandlot. While playing, Smalls – one of the boys – loses his stepdads Babe Ruth-signed baseball into Mr. Mertle’s yard.
The problem is that they can’t quickly get it back. To retrieve it, they need to get through Mr. Mertle’s massive dog, chained in his yard – ‘The Beast’. Although they’re afraid at first, they recover the ball and get to know the ‘scary’ Mr. Mertle, only to discover that he’s just a nice older man who loves collecting baseball memorabilia. This ranks as one of the best feel-good nostalgic movies.
5. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan films
Jack Ryan is one of the most famous CIA agents we know from Hollywood movies. With a spin-off series of the same name on Amazon Prime starring John Krasinski, and Hollywood’s reputation for remakes, it’s clear we haven’t seen the end of the Jack Ryan character. If you want to catch up, here is everything we know about Jack Ryan Season 2 so far. James appeared in Tom Clancy’s thriller Jack Ryan film series: The Hunt for Red October (1990), Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994). In the movies, James Earl Jones plays Vice admiral James Greer. Admiral Greer personally recruited Jack Ryan and helped him with missions. If you’re looking for an intense action movie to watch, this is the one to start with.