Actor who played Darth Vader in original ‘Star Wars’ dies at 85

Fans are mourning the death of the actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. British actor David Prowse died on Saturday at the age of 85, Variety reported.

Prowse portrayed Darth Vader on camera, while the character was voiced by James Earl Jones.

“Fans around the world”

According to Variety, the news was confirmed Sunday by Prowse’s management company, Bowington Management. “It’s with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and millions of fans around the world, to announce that our client Dave Prowse MBE has passed away at the age of 85,” the company tweeted.

The specific cause of Prowse’s death has not been released, according to the New York Post.

The Post noted that Prowse revealed he was suffering from dementia in 2014, and in 2018, he announced that he was being treated for prostate cancer.

Remembering Prowse

Tributes to the actor have poured in since his death, including from key players in the Star Wars franchise.

“David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character,” Star Wars creator George Lucas wrote, according to Variety. “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.”

Mark Hamill, the actor who played Luke Skywalker, wrote: “So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man and much more than Darth Vader. Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire – 3 time British Weightlifting Champion and Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him.”

A number of tributes included the famous line, “May the force be with you.”

Prowse’s legacy

Before acting, Prowse was a successful weightlifter. Born in 1935, he won the British weightlifting championship in 1962, Variety reported. He later landed roles in such films as Casino Royale, The Horror of Frankenstein, A Clockwork Orange, and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.

It was his role in A Clockwork Orange that earned Prowse an audition with Lucas for Star Wars, according to Variety. He tried out for both Chewbacca and Darth Vader, and he landed the latter role.

The Star Wars films that Prowse is most known for are Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.

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