Yesterday, news was reported that David Prowse has died at the age of 85.
Prowse was a bodybuilder and actor, and he is perhaps most well-known for his role portraying Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. The 6-foot-7 actor was cast by George Lucas in the role of the villain, which Prowse chose over the opportunity to play Chewbacca. Prowse gave the villain a stern and menacing posture, which was important to do for a character wearing a mask. But Prowse was not the one who provided the voice of Vader, despite his initial understanding, as Lucas brought in James Earl Jones to provide the now-iconic voice. It was then Bob Anderson who did the stunts for Vader, and Sebastian Stan who played Vader after the mask was removed in Return of the Jedi. So it was truly a team effort, but behind it all was Prowse, remaining resolute and menacing as maybe the greatest villain in film history.
In the years since, Prowse has seemed to be an oft-forgotten member of the original cast, in part because of the reported disassociation between him and Lucas. But many, including Mark Hamill, shared fond memories and condolences after the news of Prowse’s death:
Prowse was a key part of the original Star Wars trilogy, as he helped bring Darth Vader to life. When you have a villain whose face is entirely hidden behind a mask, all of the sudden posture and gestures become even more important, and Prowse was able to clearly communicate the menace and authority and power of Vader in this way.