From the moment Darth Vader silently walked on screen in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope – a towering figure clad in black, stalking slowly but with menacing purpose – it was clear that the world had a new icon of villainy.
That was the power of David Prowse.
Prowse, the actor who gave the physical performance of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died this weekend. He was 85. Standing 6 feet 6 inches with a strongman’s physique thanks to his interest in bodybuilding, Prowse’s Vader was an intimidating presence who, with simple gestures, could convey anger, sadness, and lost hope.
“David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character,” Star Wars creator George Lucas said.
“He made Vader leap off the page and onto the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader’s presence. David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace.”
On Twitter, Mark Hamill remembered his co-star. “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed,” the Luke Skywalker actor said. “He loved his fans as much as they loved him.”
So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader. Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP pic.twitter.com/VbDrGu6iBz
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) November 29, 2020
Prowse was born in Bristol, England, in 1935. He began bodybuilding at a young age and went on to win the British heavyweight weightlifting championship for three straight years from 1962 to 64. He would eventually transition into a career in film and TV, including roles in A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Tomorrow People (1973), and he played Frankenstein's monster in three Hammer horror films. He was particularly well known to audiences in the United Kingdom thanks to his portrayal of the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero who promoted road safety in a campaign that ran from 1971-1990 – a part that would see him awarded an MBE in 2000.
In 2015, Prowse starred in two documentaries related to his role as Darth Vader role. One was entitled The Force's Mouth which included Prowse voicing Darth Vader's lines with studio effects applied for the first time, and the other was entitled I Am Your Father covering the subject of the fallout between Prowse and Lucasfilm.
His other acting credits included 1967's Casino Royale, 1973's White Cargo, 1977's The People That Time Forgot, and television series like The Saint, Doctor Who, and Space: 1999.
For Star Wars, Prowse auditioned for two roles: Chewbacca and Darth Vader. In a 2008 interview with NPR, Prowse revealed why he chose the Dark Lord of the Sith.
“Well, if you think back on all the movies that you’ve ever seen where there are goodies and baddies… you always remember the baddie.”
Well, David Prowse, we'll certainly always remember you. Rest in peace, you absolute legend.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.