James Earl Jones is to receive a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in theatre.

The 86-year-old actor - whose career has spanned over 60 years - is set to be honoured at the 71st Annual Tony Awards in June later this year for his longstanding and successful career.

He said in a statement: ''In 1975 when I came to NY to study acting, my father - the actor Robert Earl Jones - took me on a 'Grand Tour.' The first night was to the opera 'Tosca' starring Leontyne Price. I loved the singing, but I didn't understand the format of opera.

''The second night was 'Swan Lake' starring Margot Fontaine. The movement of the bodies just seemed like magic. The third night was 'Pal Joey.' I was captivated by the warmth of the light on stage. I was not inspired to sing and dance, but I knew I wanted to be in the warmth of the stage light.

''The fourth night was Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible.' By contrast, it created a cold world, coldness between human beings, but the ideas that Arthur Miller was able to evoke onstage were blazing hot. I knew I wanted to be a part of this and to explore the stage.''

Jones made his Broadway debut in 1957 and during his illustrious career, he scooped two Tony Awards - both for Best Lead Actor in a Play - one for his role in 'The Great White Hope' in 1969 and another in 1987 for his part in 'Fences'.

More recently, Jones voiced Darth Vader in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' and lent his vocal abilities to the role of Mufasa in the upcoming Disney live-action remake of 'The Lion King'.

The 71st Annual Tony Awards will take place at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 11 and will be aired live on CBS.