The State of Black SciFi 2012: My Tribute to SF Icon James Earl Jones

 

In today’s blog for The State of Black Science Fiction 2012, I am paying tribute to science fiction and fantasy icon, James Earl Jones!

Most of you know of Mr. Jones’ acclaimed work as the iconic, menacing voice of Darth Vader in the mega-blockbuster Star Wars films (for which he was paid just $9000.00 for Star Wars Episode 4), however, you might not know that James Earl Jones began his nearly fifty-year film career in a Science Fiction movie and has acted in nearly forty science fiction and fantasy movies, television shows and video games.

I will talk about those in just a second, but I would like to first tell you about my meeting and “conversation” with this incredible actor and great person.

I was living in Chicago at the time. I had just left a downtown Thai restaurant and walking off the delicious Panang Tofu and Tom Yum Goon when I noticed that one of the streets was cut off and a film was being shot. Having worked on a few sets myself and aspiring to write and direct films, I decided to take a closer look.

It so happens that two of the guys working security were friends I played paintball wargames with every weekend. They let me in and told me that James Earl Jones – one of my favorite actors – was shooting a film called A Family Thing. I was excited, to say the least, and one of my friends walked me over to the director – Richard Pearce – during a break in shooting and told him that I was a fan of James Earl Jones, an aspiring screenwriter and director and that I had done executive protection for several celebrities on a few films.

Mr. Pearce took me by the wrist and said “Come with me.”

I complied.

He walked me over to James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall, another stellar actor, and introduced me, telling Mr. Jones I was an admirer of his work.

Mr. Jones signaled me to come over. He held out his hands and I took them in mine and he just smiled warmly, not saying a word. He looked toward Mr. Pearce, who leaned in close, almost pressing his ear to Mr. Jones’ lips and Mr. Jones whispered a few words.

Mr. Pearce turned to me and said “James wants you to know that he has been crippled by stuttering all his life, but he wants you to hold his hand and feel the love and appreciation he has for you.” And I did. I stood there, feeling the kindness of this brilliant, talented man I admired so much.

He looked to Richard Pearce again and whispered to him once more. Mr. Pearce paused for a second, swallowed hard and said: “Mr. Jones says that ‘one of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter’, but he hopes you really do feel what he is trying to say. With that tears began to flow down my cheeks. Mr. Pearce wiped the tears from his eyes and even Robert Duvall’s eyes welled with tears. With that, I choked out “Thank you. You just made my year.” And I hugged Mr. Jones. I then shook Robert Duvall’s and Robert Pearce’s hands and then departed, telling my friends that I sincerely owed them a HUGE favor for the hookup.

After that meeting, I was so inspired, I began to write screenplays again and I have told this story to nearly everyone I know. I thank James Earl Jones for that moment and will never forget it.

Why do I call James Earl Jones an icon of science fiction and fantasy (even horror)? Well, as I said at the beginning of this blog, his first film role was in the genre of science fiction. Ever heard of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb? He plays Lt. Lothar Zogg – a B-52 Bombardier – in the 1964 film.

Of course, the Star Wars movies added tremendously to his iconic status as did his portrayal of the villain Thulsa Doom in the 1982 film, Conan the Barbarian.

Mr. Jones has also donated his acting talents to the following science fiction, horror and fantasy works:

    • The UFO Incident (1975 TV-movie)
    • Swashbuckler (1976)
    • Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
    • The Bushido Blade (1981)
    • The Flight of Dragons (1982) (voice)
    • Faerie Tale Theatre “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” (1984)
    • Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)
    • Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987) (voice)
    • Terrorgram (1988) (voice)
    • Best of the Best (1989)
    • Grim Prairie Tales (1990)
    • Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)
    • The Meteor Man (1993)
    • The Lion King (1994) (voice)
    • Judge Dredd (1995)
    • Stargate SG-1 (1997) (voice)
    • Merlin (1998) (voice)
    • The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998 Direct-to-video) (voice)
    • Fantasia 2000 (1999)
    • Robots (2005) (voice)
    • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) (voice)
    • Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey (2009) (voice)
    • Jack and the Beanstalk (2010) (voice)

 

I love and appreciate you, Mr. James Earl Jones. If you ever read this, I pray you smile and feel what I am trying to say.

 

Next week will be the last day of our blog tour and I and my fellow bloggers are doing a HUGE giveaway for our grand finale. After the tour, please continue to follow my blog and encourage your friends to follow me as well, as I will be discussing exciting topics and giving you the scoop on racial issues, science fiction, fantasy, roleplaying games, films and novels from the African diaspora. Stay tuned!

You can also catch up on past blogs in this blog tour:

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-state-of-black-science-fiction-2012/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-why-i-love-steampunk/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-why-it-is-important-to-show-race-culture-and-ethnicity-in-our-writing/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-the-winnerthe-redeemerand-afrika/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-my-favorite-black-sci-fi-event-is-happily-natural-days-black-speculative-fiction-panel/

 

Finally, please check out my other fellow bloggers on this tour. They are Blaxsolutely Blacknificent!

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer– is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy.  Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him:  http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

 Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at:http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

 Thaddeus Howze, Author– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him:  http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction.  Visit Carole:http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook –www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter –https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html 

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him:  http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link and Rite of Passage: Initiation. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at http://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of three novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; and the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika and contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. At present, Balogun is directing and fight choreographing the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk –a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at http://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of three novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the science fiction gangster saga, Redeemer; and the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika. He is also co-creator of the soon-to-be-released role-playing game, Ki-Khanga™: The Sword & Soul RPG. Balogun is Master Instructor of the Afrikan Martial Arts Institute and Technical Director of Martial Ministries of America, a non-profit organization that serves at-risk youth. He is also a traditional African priest, actor and conflict resolution specialist, who works and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, his seven daughters and his son.

13 responses »

  1. Milton Davis says:

    Man, that must have been some experience! And I’ve seen most of those movies. His portrayal of Thulsa Doom is the highlight of the Conan movie.

    • Balogun says:

      Yes, it was a Blacknificent experience, inDEED!
      Thulsa Doom and Darth Vader are in my top five favorite movie characters.
      Thanks for your comment, Milton!

  2. Yes, James Earl Jones, certainly has done a lot. Most people don’t know that he trained his voice to be like that. I think he had a speech impediment, which he worked on to
    get that beautiful classically trained voice. Good Post!!! – Thanks.

  3. What a beautiful and moving tribute, Balogun. Lucky you for getting to meet one of your idols. James Earl Jones has always seemed like a compelling yet humble actor, and you proved it with your remembrance of him. I always found it fascinating that he stuttered, yet possessed such a rich and powerful baritone. The way he overcame his condition led me to study the traits of people with speech impediments, which resulted in a screenplay. Thanks again for your reflections on this sci-fi icon!

    • Balogun says:

      Thanks, so much, Nicole! Stutterers don’t stutter when they act, sing, or whisper. Acting was the perfect avenue for James Earl Jones to find empowerment and ease to his suffering.

  4. Balogun, I’m tearing up and crying. What an incredible story. I, too, love James Earl Jones but your story just touched something even deeper. Thanks so much for sharing. How awesome!

  5. This is a beautiful and moving post Brother Balogun! Thank you! I’ve seen James Earl Jones in so many films, and I’ve always admired him. But looking at your list I see I’ve missed some movies — quite a few in fact. Thanks too for the list, cause I’m going to look for them.

  6. [...] Although I am a fan of several actors, I only consider one to be an idol of mine. That actor is James Earl Jones. For more on why he is one of my idols check out http://chroniclesofharriet.com/2012/02/18/state-of-black-scifi-2012-my-tribute-to-science-fiction-an…. [...]

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