James Earl Jones has been called “one of the greatest actors in American history.”

But did you know before his best performances of little-known characters, like Darth Vader and Mufasa, that James Earl Jones served in the US Army during the Korean War?

After the Korean War ended, he recounted how his time serving led him to his Faith.

“The only thing I had that was not geared toward the art of killing was the Catholic Church, to which I had converted in the Army, and the complete works of Shakespeare.”

An excerpt from his interview in 1987 for The Stacks Reader reads:

“At the University of Michigan, on scholarship, Mr. Jones discovered an appetite for acting. He went into the Army, however, made first lieutenant and was tempted to stay. With his eye on the least secure of professions, Mr. Jones says he was drawn to the “absolute” nature of life in the military. He remembers sitting on a mountain top in Colorado during a training mission, listening to his colonel urge him to go for a captaincy. His dad was an actor, he told the colonel, and “something in me is curious about that.” The colonel said if acting didn’t work out, he would help him regain his commission. Had he stayed, Mr. Jones reported with a wicked little laugh, he would have wound up on the “dark side” of soldiering, a sort of Darth Vader mercenary.”

Speaking of Darth Vader – while it may be Jone’s most famous role, it wasn’t his favorite.

He said voicing the Bible was.

“When I was asked to record the New Testament, I really did it for a tall, lean man with gray hair who had not only helped to guide me to the author of the Scriptures, but as the father of my resurrected voice, had also helped me find abundant life.”

Jones was talking about his mentor Donald Crouch, who he said “never even pressed us with religion but figured if we did wake up we would find God, find our calling and, in so doing, find life.”

What a beautiful story of conversion to the Faith!

🙏 Pray for James Earl Jones!

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