James Earl Jones health: Darth Vadar voice actor on coping with diabetes for over 20 years

Fitness & Health:

Jones, the voice of Darth Vadar in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King, was diagnosed with the condition over two decades ago. He recently spoke out about it for the first time and offered an insight into how he manages the condition.

The actor was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by chance. He hadn’t noticed any symptoms but fell asleep in a gym during an exercise program. His doctor happened to be at the gym and encouraged him to get tested for the condition.

“It hit me like a thunderbolt,” said Jones.

Although he often gets fatigued by the condition, Jones has tried hard to take “responsibility” for his diabetes and live the life he wants to.


Talking about the diagnosis, he told Good Housekeeping: “I love working, and at my age I still love being able to put in eight shows a week on a play or handle a long schedule if I’m doing film or television.

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“I didn’t want that to stop, so I had to take responsibility with my condition.”

For Jones, that has meant several things: firstly, he tries to be alert about the onset of depression, which is common among people with diabetes; he has a strong support network, and he tries to keep active.

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Type 2 diabetes is when the level of blood sugar becomes too high, caused by problems with the hormone insulin, which removes sugar from the blood. It’s linked to being overweight or inactive.

The star says that his family, who act as his support system, hold him accountable for healthy eating – which is vital to managing diabetes.


“Sometimes my family will catch me sneaking a cookie. They’re on to me,” he said.

He also tries to identify when his mental health is deteriorating – although he admitted during the interview he isn’t “very good” at that.

“I do notice when I’m fatigued — it’s like I’m in a daze,” he said.

“But I’ve had to learn to distinguish when that becomes depression, and I’m not very good at that yet. But at least I’m alert to it,” added Jones.

Jones also knows how important it is to keep active. Keeping active can make your body more sensitive to insulin, and improve feelings of well-being.

“I love taking walks outside with my family, it’s the most fun for me — especially in the spring with this nice weather,” he said.

Like the actor who never noticed symptoms of his condition, many people with Type 2 diabetes are diagnosed with blood or urine tests for something else, according to the NHS.

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Other people may have symptoms but not realise they are due to diabetes because they don’t necessarily make you unwell, states the NHS.

These symptoms include:

  • Peeing more than usual
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis.

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