Veteran actor David Prowse, who was the man behind the mask of Darth Vader for three “Star Wars” films, died at the age of 85….
David Prowse — best known as the man behind the mask of Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy — has died at the age of 85.
His management team announced the news on Twitter on Saturday.
“It’s with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million of fans around the world, to announce that our client DAVE PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85.”
It's with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million of fans around the world, to announce that our client DAVE PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85. #DaveProwse @starwars #DarthVader #GreenCrossCodeMan #iconic #actor #bodybuilder #MBE pic.twitter.com/dL2RmdIqg8
— Bowington Management (@BowingtonM) November 29, 2020
While the 6-foot-7 Prowse was the man in the Darth Vader costume for all three of the original “Star Wars” films, he was never seen or heard during any of those movies. After filming was wrapped on the first “Star Wars” film, creator George Lucas hired James Earl Jones to provide the voice for his ultimate villain.
Even when Darth Vader’s mask was finally removed in “Return of the Jedi,” it was British actor Sebastian Shaw, who was revealed underneath, rather than Prowse finally getting an on screen moment in the movie.
Years later, Prowse explained that when Lucas originally approached him to join the cast of “Star Wars” he was offered two different roles and it was his choice to play Darth Vader.
“Lucas said to me, ‘You’ve got a choice of two characters in the movie,” Prowse said back in 2016. “He said, ‘There’s a character called Chewbacca, which is like a huge teddy bear, or alternatively, there’s the main villain in the piece.’ Well, there’s no choice, is there? Thank you very much, I’ll have the villain’s piece.”
A former bodybuilder, Prowse’s physical presence definitely defined Vader on film even if he was never seen or heard during the “Star Wars” films.
“Body acting and bodybuilding are more closely related than most people would image, and all that posing I’d done to impress the judges in my early years [paid] dividends,” Prowse wrote in his memoir. “From within the black leather suit, I treated Vader’s every gesture as a bodybuilding pose, refining here and exaggerating there, until my character ‘spoke’ with every tilt of his head or movement of his arms.”
While he was best known as the actor behind Darth Vader, Prowse starred in numerous other films throughout his career including Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” which is where Lucas first discovered him. He also starred in a pair of Hammer horror films where he portrayed Frankenstein in 1970’s “The Horror of Frankenstein” and 1974’s “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.”