Vader Actor and Bodybuilder Dead at 85
David Prowse, best known for being the actor who played Darth Vader, died on Sunday at the age of 85. The British actor was best known for playing the Dark Lord of the Sith, but famously was dubbed over by James Earl Jones. This was due to his Bristol accent not being considered “scary enough”.
The 6ft 6in English bodybuilder famously got the role in one audition. According to interviews with Prowse, he was given a choice between Vader or Chewbacca. He decided to go with the one where he thought he wouldn’t be in a mask all the time. One of the other reasons Prowse would choose to be Vader was “you always remember the bad guys”.
His death was announced by his longtime agent. Condolences began to pour in from his former castmates, and his fans. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) said on Twitter: “He was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader…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
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) wrote on Twitter: “…Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in ’77 and has done so ever since.”
More sad news. Dave has gone. I don’t think 3PO ever faced Vader’s mighty presence on set, other than as a bag of bits on Chewie’s shoulders in the carbon freezer. But Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in '77 and has done so ever since. And will continue to do so.
— Anthony Daniels (@ADaniels3PO) November 29, 2020
The Darth Vader actor was popular at various conventions, but had not appeared at an official Star Wars event since 2010. This is due to a rumored falling-out with George Lucas and Lucasfilm, now owned by Disney.
Trainer to the Stars, Friend to Children
Prowse came to a fame as an athlete and bodybuilder, representing England at the Commonwealth Games in the 1960s. He soon became an in-demand trainer for various actors, including Christopher Reeve when the actor was training for Superman. Prowse had made his film debut earlier in various Hammer Horror films. Other early roles included a spot in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale, on the British TV classic The Saint, and famously as the Minotaur opposite Jon Pertwee on Doctor Who. However, it was his role as a bodyguard in A Clockwork Orange that brought him to the attention of George Lucas.
However, the “best job [he] ever had” was as the Green Cross Man as part of a British safety campaign. Dressed as a superhero, Prowse would teach traffic and pedestrian safety to children.
Prowse leaves behind a wife, children, and grandchildren. He also leaves behind legions of fans who mourn his passing.