Famous British actor Dave Prowse, who played the famous role of Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has lost his life at age 85 “after a brief illness,” his agent confirmed Sunday.
Thomas Bowington, his representative, announced “with great sadness” the loss of Prowse in a message posted on his Facebook, where he indicated that he lost his life “yesterday morning”, hardly specifying details, and adding the famous phrase: “May the force be with you, always”.
Dave Prowse, who before moving to the world of cinema had been a bodybuilder in the English city of Bristol, also came to be awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his role in the Green Cross Code Man, which promoted road safety on the roads of this country.
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His great international fame came thanks to the icon that was Vader in the famous trilogy role that he won because of his imposing physique – he was 1.98 meters tall – although his strong English West Country accent was not entirely suitable for the franchise, so he was voiced by James Earl Jones.
“Although he was famous for playing many monsters, for me and for all of us who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives,” Bowington said in another statement. The agent called Prowse’s loss “a profound and truly painful loss for millions of fans around the world.”
Before beginning his film career, Prowse came to represent England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s.
Apparently, the director of Star Wars, George Lucas, set his sights on him for the role of Darth Vader when he saw him playing a bodyguard in the film “A Clockwork Orange” (1970), where he invited him to introduce himself to the selection processes for the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.
But even before beginning his acting career, which spanned five decades, his services were sought after within Hollywood circles, where he helped the late Christopher Reeve prepare for the physical demands of the role of Superman, as his personal trainer.
Prowse made his debut in front of the cameras in the parody of the film Casino Royale, from the saga of British spy James Bond, in 1967, where he played the creature of Frankenstein, a role that he was asked to play in two other films.
He also appeared regularly in various television series considered “cult”, such as The Saint Space (1999) and Doctor Who, in which he played the minotaur, in 1972.
He was chosen for the role of Vader because of his physical constitution (2.01 meters in height and 118 kg in weight), but George Lucas decided to do without his voice, recording that of actor James Earl Jones over Prowse’s. As Prowse himself later stated, he did not learn of this replacement until the film’s premiere session.
Lucas stated that he wanted a “darker” voice for the Vader character that Prowse was unable to provide and that he never intended to use Prowse’s original voice. In an interview filmed in 2004, Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia in the same series, stated that on the set Prowse was nicknamed “Darth Farmer” (a pun that included the term “farmer” ) due to her slightly intimidating West of England accent.
In the final scenes of lightsaber fighting between Vader and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Return of the Jedi (1983) Prowse, who was not a very skilled swordsman (he kept breaking the rods that got in the way of the lightsabers) , was replaced in the fight by the scene choreographer, stuntman and fencing coach Bob Anderson.