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Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse talks about his fall out with George Lucas

August 29th, 2012 by Marc 3 Comments

One of the biggest rifts in movie history is the fall out between the man who played Darth Vader, Dave Prowse, and George Lucas. Now Prowse has released a book entitled Straight From The Force’s Mouth that recounts that history… and he spoke to Yahoo Movies about it this week…

Prowse was of course known for other things in his career than just Star Wars –  he was a bodybuilding champion, in A Clockwork Orange and became known as The Green-Cross Code Man here in the UK, however it never got bigger than Darth Vader. And how could it?

Sadly, in recent years Prowse has suffered poor health, but he still does the fan conventions, well, the unofficial ones anyway.

You see, almost since day one, Lucas and Prowse had a stormy relationship. On the first Star Wars, A New Hope, Prowse was upset when he saw it and realised it wasn’t his broad Bristol accent (see the video below) coming from under the mask but rather the thunderous tones of James Earl Jones. Then, on Empire Strikes back he was upset because Lucasfilm told him false dialogue for the climatic ‘I am your father’ reveal, which he didn’t know about until he attended  the premier, he also was annoyed because most of the fighting in Empire was handled by British fencing champion Bob Anderson and finally he was replaced by Sebastian Shaw when Vader was unmasked at the climax of Return of the Jedi.

Because of this he has always been very outspoken about how he was badly treated by Lucas. To this day he maintains he saw very little or no royalties from Return of the Jedi.

However, he was always a big part of the Star Wars fan experience, attending conventions big and small around the globe. Until, that is, a documentary called The People Versus George Lucas by Alexandre O Philips was released. The documentary was a deliberately one-sided look at the Star Wars Special Editions and how George Lucas ruined them by dabbling. In the interview Prowse appears, talking about Lucas. In a very unfavourable light. 

“You have no idea where these interviews are going to go and this one found its way into this documentary,” Prowse tells Yahoo.

“Obviously Lucas didn’t like it, and as soon as the film hit, they put the block on me.” By ‘block’ this means he’s not allowed to be at any official Star Wars events, ” How can you have a ‘Star Wars’ convention without Darth Vader?” Prowse ponders.

On talking about filming the movies and how he was deceived about his role in the saga, who Vader really was and what he would sound like, Prowse says: “The thing that hurt was it was all done without telling me. It was all done in a very underhand way. I didn’t like it one little bit,” he said.

The first big fall out between him and Lucas came when, during filming of Jedi, The Daily Mail published a story saying Vader would be played by Sebastian Shaw and would die at the end of the movie. Today this day Prowse maintains he didn’t say anything of the sort as he didn’t know these things at the timem never-the-less he was outcasted from the movie and barely used by a furious Lucas for the remainder of the movie. In fact Lucas and Jedi director Richard Marquand never spoke to him after it.

“Lucas regards me as a blabbermouth,” said Prowse.

A sad story indeed, but one that there certainly seems to be two sideds to. Maybe someday we’ll get that elusive interview with George Lucas and get his side of the events.

For the full interview go here

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….

  • Sam Merry

    Ironically, if you look at that photo above, and think about an aged Hayden Christensen, Dave Prowse would have been an ideal physical subject for the reveal, rather than having to digitally insert Hayden over the top of Sebastian Shaw.

    If this is all true, it is indeed a terrible shame. I can understand the decision to have James Earl Jones as the voice, because that just *is* a great voice for this kind of role, but why he wasn’t told is rather puzzling.

  • Aaryk Noctivagus

    “One of the biggest rifts in movie history is the fall out between the man who played Darth Vader, Dave Prowse, and George Lucas.”

    What? I am sure there are many bigger rifts than this. I’d say the biggest in cinema history that I know off the top of my head was the rift between Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann – that one was tragic for both them and the art of cinema.

    I can’t help but think I’d like to knock these two squabblers heads together. Dave Prowse comes across to me as completely deluded over himself and his place… and I know that others have fallen foul of Lucas banning folk from the Ranch.

    A lot of people could have successfully inhabited the suit (and did)… this is only a gossip rift rather than a cinematically significant one. Neat article though :o)

  • Anonymous

    Over the years it’s become clear that Lucas is a petty, insecure character with an inflated sense of his own importance.

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