James Earl Jones: A Chameleon At His Craft

James Earl Jones has had a remarkable career on stage and in film. Spanning five decades, he's played some of Hollywood's most memorable roles.

On Sunday, he will receive a Life Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles.

"It's a great thrill for me. I have been around a long time," Jones told Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen.

"So I qualify for a lifetime thing, but I'm primarily a stage actor. So I feel my ambition is to be a centipede, a monopede is an actor who does only movies. I'm a dualpede, a triplepede. I do commercials and animations. I'm going towards the centipede," he said.

"Everything you do, we love. But how do you see yourself first and foremost, as a stage actor? Because that's the bulk of your work?" Chen asked.

"No, I don't. I'm a novice at film. But I got my training in stage. So I feel more at home there, but I love all the other media," he said.

Jones has played a myriad of great roles and has given life to "The Lion King's" Mufasa and "Star Wars'" Darth Vader.

Despite those widely-known roles, Jones says that he likes the "obscure ones," which include his favorite stage plays by August Wilson and Shakespeare.

His roots come from acting on stage, but he is eager to do more film, which he humbly says, he's just learning.

With Jones' memorable role in "Field of Dreams," it's hard to believe that the stellar actor is just learning film.

"To get this honor from fellow actors for your film work, that must be just so flattering," Chen said.

"That is just astonishing," Jones replied.

Jones openly admits to having a stutter - a condition that could be potentially frightening on stage; however, with hard work and dedication to his craft, he has overcome it.

"I am a stuttter. Once you stutter, you never stop being a stutterer. You can work with it, you can work around it, and I do most of the time," he admitted. "Well, you try to find the rhythm. Stutterers who sing don't stutter when they sing. And when you read poetry, you don't stutter because there's a rhythmic factor. And good drama, well-written drama like August Wilson, has a rhythm in it. It's a language rhythm," he said.

More than 40 years ago, Jones played the role of the first black president.

"And now here we are experiencing our first black president. What does that mean to you?" Chen asked.

"It means -- I think it is as it should be. It's OK to get excited about it. What will have to excite us is what we do for him. There was a young rap artist who said Obama is the door, and we just have to walk through it. But it has to be a tall person to walk through that door. You have to get yourself together. And that's what we have to do. That will be exciting," Jones said.

"Have you ever met Barack Obama?" Chen asked.

"No. I'd love to. But I'll take my time. He'll be there a while, you know. And he's got a lot of things to do," he said.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards airs Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009, on TNT at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
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