A Lifetime of Achievement, but James Earl Jones Isn't Done

Jones: I thought that might be the last large film I would ever have the chance to be a part of. It was wholesome mythology and fun to do. In fact, my only purpose in the film was to set up the revenge theme by chopping off Conan's mother's head. There were no point to the speeches. Just a lot of words.

Q: Whose voice do you admire?

Jones: John Gielgud and Richard Burton. They are pleasant to listen to. Very clear. They also have the best connection between thought and sound.

Q: You were one of the first black actors to play a president on film, in 1972's "The Man." What do you think about our new president?

Jones: There's nothing to it. It is as it should be. I don't even want to say how exciting it is. It is as it should be, given who he is, his mind and sensibilities. Not given that he is a black man. One of his big jobs is dealing with racial issues, especially poverty.

Q: Have you caught up with the movies in contention for awards this season?

Jones: I've seen them all. "Benjamin Button," I really liked that. The director put together a wonderful jigsaw puzzle. I like both of Kate Winslet's movies, especially "The Reader." But I had a problem with "The Dark Knight." It was a jumble until the issues of morality showed up at the end. I'm not criticizing it. You just have to get past that style.

Q: What is the biggest change you have seen in your profession since you began? Jones: One thing I noticed is the use of the voice. There is a lot of whisper acting these days. Paul Giamatti in "John Adams" whispered most of his dialogue. Not to criticize him, but, one, I'm hard of hearing. And, two, voice is voice. Not aspiration. A whisper is a raspy sound. A voice is a full sound. Speech is a very important aspect of being human. A whisper doesn't cut it.

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