R.I.P. David Prowse, The Actor Who Was Darth Vader (And Blew His Secret)
The world just lost David Prowse this past weekend, the man famous for creating Darth Vader's iconic gesticulations. Prowse had a long and storied career that also included netting weightlifting championships, training Christopher Reeve for the role of Superman, and appearing as Frankenstein's monster in the only James Bond movie to incorporate Mary Shelley's literary masterpiece into the franchise ... so far. Prowse also had a small role in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and more recently appeared helmet-less in a janky 2006 Star Wars fan film.
But of course, he is most fondly remembered as the actor who supplied the movements for Darth Vader, but not the voice -- even though he reportedly was told by George Lucas that his vocal performance would be used in the finished film, despite Prowse's rural English accent which promoted the crew to nickname him "Darth Farmer."
The thing we still can't get over is the time Prowse essentially guessed one of the greatest movie twists of all time. In 1978, Prowse went on a public speaking tour to capitalize on the success of Star Wars and stick it to George Lucas, who had repeatedly downplayed Prowse's involvement in the film. Lucas didn't allow any on-set photos of Vader with his helmet off and included "no information" about Prowse in the movie's press materials. Prowse was especially peeved at the "disgraceful" decision to hire some other dude to be Darth Vader when the cast made their concrete impressions at Mann's Chinese Theatre.
It was during that tour that Prowse informed the public multiple times that Darth Vader was actually Luke Skywalker's dad. Amazingly, he'd even said the same thing during an interview back in 1977, stating, "Vader didn't kill Luke's father, Vader IS his father." Since even rough drafts of The Empire Strikes Back contained scenes in which Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader weren't yet the same sand-hating guy, it kind of just seems like Prowse's prognostications weren't informed by anything Lucas had told him, and he kind of accidentally just stumbled into the same story idea Lucas did -- although as far as we know, Prowse never went into prolonged details about Vader's awkwardly hormonal adolescence and hatred of sand.
Top Image: Lucasfilm