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SYFY WIRE Darth Vader

'May the Force be with you': Hollywood mourns the loss of Star Wars actor David Prowse

By Josh Weiss
David Prowse

Another Star Wars veteran, David Prowse, was returned to the Force this weekend at the age of 85. The British actor and body-builder was famous for physically playing the role of Darth Vader in the original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). While James Earl Jones provided the speaking voice for the iconic Sith Lord, it was Prowse's movements that really brought the menacing villain to life.

"We all have celebrated the brilliance of James Earl Jones' vocal performance as Vader — and rightfully so — but we must never forget the physical swag Mr. Prowse brought to the role," Community and MCU alum Yvette Nicole Brown wrote on Twitter.

"David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character,” Star Wars creator George Lucas said in a statement. "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."

Brown was one of the numerous celebrities to mourn Prowse's passing. He was also memorialized by other Star Wars icons like Mark Hamill ("Luke Skywalker"), Anthony Daniels ("C-3PO"), Carl Weathers ("Greef Karga"), and Rosario Dawson (live-action "Ahsoka Tano"). Elijah Wood, who voiced the character of Jace Rucklin in Star Wars Resistance, kept his tribute simple and to the point: "May the Force be with you."

"I'm very happy to have been a major part of the Star Wars trilogy," Prowse said in 2016. "I think it's done wonders for me. It's enabled me to travel all around the world, doing these sci-fi conventions. To play the part of Vader, who is now regarded as the ultimate screen villain, is a lovely accolade."

As Brian McNoldy, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Miami, points out, all three actors in the "I recognized your foul stench" scene from A New Hope (Prowse, Carrie Fisher, and Peter Cushing) are sadly no longer with us.