October 3, 2008 / 1:00 AM / in 10 years

James Earl Jones to get SAG life achievement award

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - James Earl Jones, whose booming voice gave the world the villainous Darth Vader in “Star Wars”, will receive the 2008 life achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild.

Actor James Earl Jones gestures while speaking during the unveiling of the Magna Carta exhibit at the National Constitution center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 3, 2007. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

The award, given annually to the actor who fosters the finest ideals of the acting profession, will be presented to Jones in January when the guild honors the year’s top acting achievements on television and film, SAG said on Thursday.

Jones’ voice is known around the world in roles such as Mufasa, the king in Disney’s “The Lion King”, and in numerous commercials. He also has a long and distinguished career on Broadway in roles such as boxer Jack Johnson in “The Great White Hope”, on screen in “Patriot Games” and “Cry the Beloved Country”, and on television, where he played Alex Hayley in “Roots:The Next Generation.”

Ironically, Jones, 77, spent his childhood as a virtual mute because of a severe stutter that he overcame only in high school.

SAG president Alan Rosenberg said Jones was an extraordinary actor whose long and quiet work off camera as an advocate for literacy and the arts “deserves our appreciation.”

“Growing up, I was mute to the outside world, but there were hundreds of conversations in my head...Through a love of reading, I was able to overcome my muteness and pursue a career in which my voice would be my most prominent asset,” Jones said in a statement.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant

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