We know the legendary James Earl Jones as the unmistakable voice of Vader, but we owe the villain’s menacing physical presence to Prowse, the iconic British bodybuilder who donned the character’s armor and helmet in the Original Trilogy. He also starred in I Am Your Father, a 2015 documentary that depicts the life of the weightlifter as a rather anonymous star of the galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars‘ Mark Hamill, who portrayed Vader’s son Luke and as such played many scenes next to Prowse, has now paid tribute to the actor in a heartfelt tweet, writing:
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
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The competitive weightlifter had a number of minor roles in his 50-year-spanning career, but most notably, he appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and rose to prominence in the UK as the first Green Cross Code man, a program to raise pedestrian road safety awareness.
Thanks to the aforementioned documentary film and many previous interviews, we know that George Lucas and Prowse had a difficult relationship, going all the way back to 1977 with the first movie, where the creator allegedly didn’t tell the actor that he was going to be dubbed over. And much like everyone else, he had to learn about Vader being Luke’s father during The Empire Strikes Back premiere. Then, there were the issues with Return of the Jedi‘s royalties, which the bodybuilder allegedly didn’t receive.
In any event, with the passing of yet another individual related to the making of that galaxy far, far away, it’s a sad day for Star Wars fans indeed. Rest in peace David Charles Prowse.