The actor behind the iconic Darth Vader suit in Star Wars, Dave Prowse, has died at the age of 85.
Dave Prowse is best known for his role as the legendary villain Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. However, Prowse was also a famous weightlifting champion in Britain in the 1960s.
Standing at nearly six foot six, the former heavyweight champion has the perfect physique for one of two roles on Star Wars. George Lucas, the creator of the world-renowned franchise, first spotted Prowse on screen playing a bodyguard on A Clockwork Orange. Lucas offered the role of either gentle Chewbacca or the villain Darth Vader to Prowse. He says the choice was simple, though.
“I said, ‘Well, don’t say any more, George, I’ll have the villain’s part,'” said Prowse in a 2013 interview. “You always remember the bad guy.”
In addition, another reason Prowse turned down the part of the hairy ally was because he thought filming for three months in a big hairy suit didn’t sound ideal.
The Voice of Darth Vader
What many people don’t know, however, is that while Prowse played Vader, he didn’t voice the character. The actor was born in Bristol, England, and had a distinctive thick accent. Therefore, American actor James Earl Jones voiced over the parts after filming was completed. Prose understood the switch due to his voice becoming muffled behind the mask, and he didn’t have time to fly to America to voice over the lines. However, he didn’t learn about it until he saw the film during its premiere.
“I’m watching the film, and all of a sudden this strange voice comes over,” he told BBC News in 2013. “I thought, ‘Oh, goodness me, that’s not me.'” But he said that Jones had been “a great choice” for the part, and the two became friends.
Dave Prowse played in all three movies, including the 1977 premiere of “Star Wars,” the 1980 showing of “The Empire Strikes Back,” and in “Return of the Jedi” in 1983.
The cause of death has not been released, but Prowse retired from the big screen in 2016 due to poor health. He leaves behind his wife, Norma Scammell, and three children.
[H/T New York Times]