Prowse played the physical form of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Prowse spoke the dialogue during filming, but Lucas claimed he wanted a “darker voice”—a deeper, more reverberating voice, and had James Earl Jones provide the voice instead, deeming Prowse’s West Country accent unsuitable for the character.
Prowse claims he was originally told that he would be seen and heard at the end of Return of the Jedi when Vader’s mask was removed. Instead, actor Sebastian Shaw was used. In the 2004 documentary Empire of Dreams, actress Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the original trilogy films, quipped that they nicknamed Prowse “Darth Farmer” (a Linguistic discrimination jibe regarding his urban Bristolian accent). In the lightsaber fight scenes between Vader and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Prowse, who wasn’t a very skilled swordsman (he kept breaking the poles that stood in for the lightsabers), was replaced by the scene’s fight-choreographer, the stuntman and fencing coach Bob Anderson. Prowse felt sidelined by Anderson during the making of Return of the Jedi in particular, and claims that he was only able to persuade director Richard Marquand that he should be the one to throw the Emperor off the balcony after Marquand had tried and failed for a week to film the scene successfully without him.
Prowse reprised his role of Darth Vader for the video games Star Wars: The Interactive Video Board Game (1996) and Monopoly Star Wars (1997).
In 1999, it was rumoured that thieves broke into Prowse’s home and stole the lightsaber he used in the Star Wars trilogy and several of his other possessions. However, after a discussion with Prowse on 4 May 2007, he said that the “lightsaber” was actually a toy and not an original prop. He explained that the story printed about the break-in concentrated on the supposed “lightsaber” and not on the jewellery and other valuables taken. He further said that he was never given any of the props from the Star Wars films.
Since 2002 Prowse has been an Honorary Member / Honorary Leader of the 501st Legion, a fan group dedicated to Star Wars costuming.
Prowse continues to associate himself with his role in the Star Wars films and is involved in the convention circuit. Despite this, he has not been included in recent reunions of the original cast, such as those for the Empire of Dreams documentary and the 2005 Vanity Fair cover. While being interviewed by Kevin Moore of The Moore Show Prime Time, he admitted his dislike for the prequel trilogy and opined that the new films were “out of context in terms of special effects in comparison to the original trilogy”.
In July 2007, Prowse joined many others from the Star Wars films for the first ever Star Wars Celebration event held outside the United States. It was run by Lucasfilm Ltd. and the Cards Inc. Group, at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London. The occasion was to mark the 30th anniversary of Star Wars.
Prowse played a cameo role in the Star Wars fan films “Order of the Sith: Vengeance” and its sequel “Downfall” – Order of the Sith, alongside Jeremy Bulloch and Michael Sheard. These fan films were made in Britain in support of the charity Save the Children.
In 2008, he was one of the cast members featured on Justin Lee Collins’s Bring Back…Star Wars. In the film, Prowse commented that he had a dispute with George Lucas after he allegedly leaked reports of Darth Vader’s death to the press. Prowse had previously suggested that Darth Vader could be Luke Skywalker’s father in a speech he gave to UC Berkeley in 1978. However, this was shortly after the release of Star Wars and nearly two years before The Empire Strikes Back (which he considers to be his favourite of the trilogy) was released, and the script had not even been written at the time. Gary Kurtz, the producer of The Empire Strikes Back, said in the 2015 documentary I Am Your Father that Prowse’s apparent plot spoiler was simply “a good guess.”
Prowse claims his contract for Return of the Jedi included a share of profits on the film, and although it grossed $475 million on a $32 million budget, Prowse explained in an interview in 2009 that he has never received residuals for his performance. Due to “Hollywood accounting”, the actual profits are sent as “distribution fees” to the studio, leaving nothing to distribute to others.
In July 2010, Prowse was banned by George Lucas from attending official Star Wars fan conventions. Lucas has reportedly given Prowse no reason, other than stating that Prowse “burnt too many bridges” between Lucasfilm and himself.
A 2015 Spanish documentary, by filmmaker Marcos Cabotá, entitled I Am Your Father, details Prowse’s current life and his blackballing by LucasFilm, which the documentary suggests is unjustified. The leaks featured in the documentary originated from a technician working on the films.
Dave Prowse & Jayce Lewis 2015