Star Wars legend David Prowse has sadly passed away at the age of 85.
It is a sad day for sci-fi fans, as Star Wars legend David Prowse, best known for playing Darth Vader in movies A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, has passed away. The actor died from what his agent, Thomas Bowington, described as a “short illness” in a statement posted on his Facebook page (via BBC UK):
“May the force be with him, always! […] Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.”
Prowse was deeply passionate about his time as Darth Vader, and he would often share fascinating stories that gave fans an insight into the making of the first Star Wars trilogy. During a 2013 interview with BBC, for example, he explained that he was initially given a choice by George Lucas between playing the Dark Lord of the Sith and Chewbacca:
“… he took me into a room and showed me all these conceptual drawings and then said ‘I’d like to offer you one of two parts in this movie I’m doing’ […] The first one is a character called Chewbacca […] the other one is a character called Darth Vader, who is the big villain of the film.’ I said ‘Don’t say any more, George, I’ll have the villain’s part […] If you think back on all the movies you’ve ever seen where there are good guys and bad guys, you always remember the bad guys.’”
According to Prowse, he was initially supposed to also lend his voice to Darth Vader; however, George Lucas deemed it best to find a different voice actor for the galactic baddie, which led to James Earl Jones dubbing over Prowse’s dialogue. For those eager to know what his portrayal of Darth Vader would have sounded like, here is a behind-the-scenes video of Prowse delivering lines as the villain:
Even though his voice was ultimately not heard in the film, Prowse’s physicality and imposing presence were pivotal in making Darth Vader the intimidating galactic tyrant we have known and loved for over four decades.
In addition to playing Darth Vader, Prowse had small roles as muscle-bound bodyguard Julian in A Clockwork Orange and as a minotaur on Doctor Who’s season 9 “The Time Monster” serial. He was also known for playing a British superhero called Green Cross Code Man in a road safety awareness campaign. His time as the Green Cross Code Man earned him the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award (MBE) in the year 2000, which, as described by BBC UK, is “rewarded for making a positive impact in their line of work.” If you want to watch Prowse as the road-safety-conscious superhero, take a look at this video shared by director Edgar Wright:
Prowse was also an accomplished bodybuilder and athlete, attributes that allowed him to be involved in one of DC’s most beloved films: 1978’s Superman. That’s right. As Prowse explained in an interview, he tried to get cast as Superman for the film, but was ultimately rejected for the part because he wasn’t American. Luckily for him, things didn’t end there. Sometime after that, Christopher Reeve was cast as Clark Kent, but there was a tiny problem with the actor: He was considered too slim for the part.
Worried about the actor not being able to bulk up in time for filming, director Richard Donner contacted Prowse and asked him to train Reeve. And that is the story of how Prowse was involved in helping Christopher Reeve attain his Man of Steel physique.
Star Wars Actors Pay Tribute to Prowse
A number of stars from the Star Wars universe took to social media to pay their respects to the actor, including Mark Hamill.
Anthony Daniels took to social media to share his memories of the Star Wars legend.
Carl Weathers honored the star by reflecting on how he created Darth Vader’s unrivaled legacy.
Daniel Logan did the same, reflecting on the memories he had of David Prowse from the various cons they had been to.
The Peter Mayhew Foundation posted a brief message and a picture of Prowse alongside fellow Star Wars legends Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker:
As evidenced by the impact his portrayal of Darth Vader had in pop culture, Prowse will live on through his work in the Star Wars universe and the entertainment industry in general. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Share your messages of appreciation for Star Wars legend David Prowse in the comments below.