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Darth Vader is Back and voiced by none other than James Earl Jones

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Updated on June 25, 2016 by Dave Palmer

We’re less than six months out from the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first of Disney’s Star Wars Anthology films. While previously released trailers and story details (and a handful of leaks) have given fans a good idea of what to expect from this swashbuckling tale of the Rebel Alliance’s mission to steal the original Death Star plans, many details about the film had been a mystery. This week, Entertainment Weekly provided some highly sought-after answers.

Since the announcement that archetypal movie villain, Darth Vader will indeed return in the new Star Wars installment Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, fans have rabidly speculated and debated over who will voice the scoundrel.

In a major fan pleaser, James Earl Jones, at 85 years young, will return to voice the father of Luke Skywalker, deep breathing included, according to Entertainment Weekly.  Not only will Darth Vader be present in Rogue One, but he will also be depicted in the prime of his evil glory, sure to be the Force-choking, saber wielding, and Death Star building dark knight fans love to hate.

EW reveals that even though “large-framed performers will embody the character behind the mask,” film director Gareth Edwards knew there was no substitute for Jones as Vader’s iconic voice actor.  Edwards hints that while Vader’s time on screen in Rogue One may be limited, his looming impact on the plot is not.  He fits into the military structure of the empire, but is only accountable to Emperor Palpatine, which adds an aura of uncertainty and fear to his character’s interaction with the story’s characters.

Related: Watch: Fans create a perfect Lego remake of the Rogue One trailer

A major question that had fans speculating was whether series villain Darth Vader would be making an appearance in the new film. Given where the film’s story falls in the Star Wars timeline, it makes sense — Rogue One reportedly ends just minutes before the opening events of Episode IV: A New Hope. Rumors and leaks seemingly pointed to the possibility of a Vader cameo, but Entertainment Weekly has confirmed it: Darth Vader will be in Rogue One. The confirmation comes from the cover of this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, which states in no uncertain terms that “Darth Vader is Back!”

Just how much of a role Vader will play in this new Star Wars tale remains to be seen. However, based on the information in the magazine, the operations of Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelssohn), military director of the Imperial forces and the film’s main antagonist, may be under the direct oversight of the Sith Lord. For those of you who doubted that Vader would return, we find your lack of faith (say it with us) disturbing.

The story also gives more details about other crew members, including one character we knew virtually nothing about: the grizzled warrior played by Forest Whitaker. We now know his name, Saw Gerrera, and that he will be joining the ranks of protagonist Jyn Erso’s (Felicity Jones) team. A new photo shows off the character looking slightly different than we’ve seen previously, with a full head of hair that contrasts with the shaved look he sports in the trailer, and teal-colored armor instead of black. We’re not sure exactly what this means, but we wonder if it has something to do with those much-discussed Rogue One reshoots. Diehard Star Wars fans may recognize the character’s name, as this is not the first Star Wars property he’s made an appearance in. Saw Gerrera was featured in an episode of Cartoon Network’s animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series as a guerrilla soldier aided by Anakin Skywalker in fighting against the droid army on his home planet.

Saw Gerrera
Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Other details gleaned from the Entertainment Weekly coverage include new information on characters like Alan Tudyk’s K-2S0 (or “Kaytoo”), a traitorous imperial droid who joins the rebels. Director Gareth Edwards describes Kaytoo as “the antithesis of C-3PO.” He has a brash and sarcastic attitude and doesn’t care about the opinions of others.

New information on Jyn Erso also paints the character as a less-than-savory criminal, who has had run-ins with both the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance alike prior to the events of the film. In order to expunge her record, Erso takes on the mission to steal the Death Star plans, teaming up with fellow Rebel Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and several other characters to complete the mission. New details on Jyn Erso’s father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson), and how he is connected to the Death Star project have also been revealed. For more information on the entire cast of Rogue One’s colorful characters, check out our extensive Rogue One roundup.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will premiere in theaters December 16.

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