Darth Vader is one of the most feared villains in cinematic history. Having first appeared in 1977's A New Hope, he has now appeared in seven of the live-action Star Wars movies, the animated series The Clone Wars (and the movie that started it), Rebels, and the micro-series Clone Wars and Forces of Destiny.
He's the kind of character fans want to know everything about. Here’s (almost) everything you need to know about Darth Vader.
- Who is he? He was Anakin Skywalker before he became a Sith Lord known as Darth Vader. A fallen Jedi Knight, Vader became the “evil henchman” of Sheev Palpatine who rose to rule over the galaxy. In reality, the first six Star Wars movies are about the rise and fall of Vader’s character.
- The Darth Vader mask that appeared in Revenge of the Sith was fashioned using a digital design to computer-lathe the base mask, from which molds were made to cast the on-screen costume masks. This meant Vader’s mask was exactly symmetrical.
- While Qui-Gon Jinn theorized that Anakin’s virgin birth was the will of the Force, Palpatine implied in Revenge of the Sith that Darth Plagueis caused the birth using the Force. Earlier drafts of the Revenge of the Sith script suggested this was indeed the case. It’s non-canon however, so it’s only a theory.
- How old was Vader when he died? Darth was 45 years old.
- Vader's look was inspired by Nazi uniforms.
- In the Alan Dean Foster novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, Luke and Vader have a duel, and Luke chops off Vader’s arm. When Lucas decided that the novel would not form the basis of the second movie the book was made redundant. However, Lucas kept the idea of the arm severing and reversed who did what, which was again reversed in Return of the Jedi.
- Seven people have contributed to the character performance of Darth Vader in the movies. If we go in chronological order, Jake Lloyd played Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, Hayden Christian played Ani and Darth in the other two prequels, David Prowse was the suit in all three original trilogy movies while James Earl Jones did the voiceover four times (including Revenge of the Sith). Bob Anderson chipped in with some stunt work in Return of the Jedi and Sebastian Shaw famously played the unmasked Vader in Return of the Jedi as well. Finally, when The Empire Strikes Back was redone for re-release in 1994-95, C. Andrew Nelson was used for a few fill-in bits and bobs (see his drop-by notes in the comments).
- Some people think it was Vader’s son Luke Skywalker who brought balance to the Force. While Luke’s efforts helped with it, the actual of balancing the Force came when Vader chose to throw the Emperor down the well (as the Emperor was in the middle of killing Luke with Force lightning). Vader found that compassion and love for his son were greater than the choice he made to follow the Emperor and fall to the dark side of the Force. Vader truly was the chosen one – or rather he used to be until The Rise of Skywalker determined Rey was the chosen one. You can debate it either way until the space cows come home.
- Vader was a defeated man. The main way he fell to the dark side was by way of trying to find a means to prevent his wife’s death. When he actually caused Padmé's death what did he have to live for? Nothing. He was simply trapped as the heavy-breathing vessel of Palpatine. He did eventually become obsessed with finding his son so they could overthrow Palatine together.
- In A New Hope, the character has only eight minutes of screen time. It was all that was needed to propel Vader to becoming one of the most popular bad guys in the history of movie bad guys.
- Vader’s theme song is known as the Imperial March and is often used to signify the arrival of a bad person by smart alecs who hum the tune as they enter a room.
- James Earl Jones did the voice of Vader.
- Vader’s confession to Luke that he was his father in The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many movie fans to be the best plot twist in movie history. This concept was not originally thought of by Lucas for the first movie, which clearly intended that Vader and Anakin were different people. Please recall Obi-Wan’s expository scene with Luke – the line said during the filming of the scene was “Obi-Wan killed your father,” which was a clever ruse to throw people off the real twist (which apparently only the team of Lucas, Kasdan, Kershner, and Mark Hamill actually knew the truth of).
- Darth Vader is not German for Dark Father and the name, therefore, is not a clue about his parentage of Luke.
- Vader's voice turned up briefly in The Rise of Skywalker when it was revealed Darth Sidious had impersonated him. James Earl Jones returned one final (?) time to record the voice.
Paul Rose Jr is the Editor in Chief of Wealth of Geeks & manages the Associated Press program for The Insiders network. He has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for InfuzeMag and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing or editing on Wealth of Geeks, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.