Skip to page content

James Earl Jones

About this Artist

Celebrated actor JAMES EARL JONES is known for his powerful and critically acclaimed motion picture, television, and theater performances. His portrayal of the South African minister in the famous Alan Paton classic, Cry, The Beloved Country, promises to remain in the annals of acting studies that will be researched by students of the art throughout the years. The strong human drama, A Family Thing, which pairs him with Robert Duvall, has also been praised for what the critics term an award-winning performance.

Prior to these renowned films, Jones' famous voice was heard in Walt Disney Pictures' The Lion King, in which he plays King Mufasa. His appearances in the critically acclaimed CBS series Under One Roof and NBC's Emmy Award-winning sitcom Frasier brought Jones Emmy nominations. He also reprised his role as Admiral Greer with co-star Harrison Ford in Clear and Present Danger, the third in a highly popular group of Paramount films based on the best-selling books by Tom Clancy (Jones also played Admiral Greer in Hunt for Red October and in Patriot Games).

Other projects have included several episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, the HBO movies Rebound and The 2nd Civil War, the CBS Movie-of-the-Week Timepiece, the Showtime movie Alone with Hume Cronyn, the award-winning Showtime movie Summer's End, and a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie What the Deaf Man Heard. James Earl Jones has also received critical praise in the literary world for his autobiography, Voices and Silences, that he co-authored with Penelope Niven.

The past several decades have brought a flurry of activity for Jones in the motion picture arena. Jones completed roles in Sneakers with Robert Redford, in the Robert Townsend film Meteor Man, in Sommersby with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere, and in Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. Other movies of note include Conan the Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Convicts with Robert Duvall, and Scorchers with Faye Dunaway and Emily Lloyd.

In 1991, Jones created the dynamic, impassioned character of Gabriel Bird, an ex-police officer who is released after 20 years of imprisonment for killing his partner and then becomes a private investigator on the streets of Chicago. Millions tuned in each week to watch this highly acclaimed Lorimar/ABC series called Gabriel's Fire, for which Jones won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

For all of his success in television and movies, James Earl Jones' beginnings are in the theater. He was in the historic company of Jean Genet's The Blacks, which nurtured a generation of future black stars. His long association with the New York Shakespeare Festival began in 1959 and carried him from Hamlet to King Lear. He earned Daniel Blum's Theatre World Award as Most Promising Personality in Moon on a Rainbow Shawl in 1962, and garnered an Obie as Best Actor in Off-Broadway Theater for his performance in Clandestine on the Morning Line. He later received two Obies in 1965 for his work in Baal and Othello.

It was a few years later that Jones earned worldwide acclaim in Howard Sackler's The Great White Hope, in which he played Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion. The performance won him his first Tony Award and his appearance in the film version won him an Academy Award nomination. Jones' second Tony came as a result of his stunning performance in August Wilson's play Fences.

Since 1989 James Earl Jones has done extensive commercial work for Bell Atlantic, now called Verizon, and enjoys his status as the spokesperson for this rapidly growing national telecommunications company. In addition, his distinctive voice can be heard all over the world intoning, "This is CNN."