David Prowse, who brought Darth Vader to life in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died at the age of 85. On Sunday, George Lucas released a statement on the actor/bodybuilder’s passing. “David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character,” the Star Wars creator said. “He made Vader leap off the page and on to 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.”
Star Wars star Mark Hamill also shared remembrance of Prowse via Twitter. “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed,” Hamill said on Twitter. “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”
Prowse was a competitive weightlifter who also spent 50 years as an actor. His role as Darth Vader will always be his most memorable, but he also appeared in A Clockwork Orange and helped train Christopher Reeve to play Superman.
During casting for Star Wars, Prowse had his choice of playing Darth Vader or Chewbacca. In 2013, he told NPR why he chose to go with the villain.
“What happened actually is my agent rang me up and said there’s a gentleman in town called George Lucas who would very much like to see you,” he said. “So, I went out to see him and meet up with him. He took me into a room and showed me all these conceptual drawings. He said, ‘I would like to offer you one of two parts in this movie I’m doing. The first one is a character called Chewbacca.’ I said, ‘What in the h*** is Chewbacca?’ ‘He goes through the film on the side of the goodies, you see?’ I heard that and said, ‘Three months in a gorilla skin? No, thank you very much!’
“’The other one is called Darth Vader. He’s the big villain of the film, you see?’ I said, ‘Don’t say anymore George, I’ll have the villain’s part. He said, ‘Tell me why?’ Think back on all the movies you’ve ever seen when there’s good guys and bad guys. You always remember the bad guy!”
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