Today, the Star Wars universe lost one of its original stars, as it was announced that David Prowse had passed away at the age of 85. The actor/bodybuilder is most known as the man who brought Darth Vader to life. While James Earl Jones memorably provided the villain’s voice, the 6ft 6inch Prowse was the one who created Vader’s physicality and presence.
SW fans have been mourning the star’s loss all day today, then. And so have those who worked with him on the original trilogy, including creator George Lucas. Lucas released a statement in response to the sad news:
“David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character,” the Star Wars creator said. “He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader’s presence. David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace.”
The British-born Prowse performed Vader in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, with other performers taking on the part for the character’s additional appearances in the likes of Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One. Away from Star Wars, Prowse was a regular face in British TV and film in the 1970s – he even showed up in another iconic sc-fi franchise, Doctor Who – and played Frankenstein’s Monster in a bunch of Hammer horror movies.
He was also beloved of children of that generation as the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero who taught kids how to cross the road safely in a series of public service announcements. Prowse has a couple of other major claims to Hollywood fame, too – he featured in Stanley Kubrick classic A Clockwork Orange and trained up Christopher Reeve as Superman. In later years, Prowse was a regular face on the convention circuit.
Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill, Prowse’s on-screen son/enemy, likewise paid his respects to the late actor. On Twitter, Hamill praised him as “a kind man” who “loved his fans as much as they loved him.”
Prowse’s family confirmed that he had passed away after a short illness this Sunday, November 29th. Originating the role of Vader means that he’ll not only go down as a Star Wars legend but an icon of cinema, too. Rest in peace.