The Star Wars universe lost one of the true originals recently when the man behind Darth Vader passed away. Vader was famously voiced by James Earl Jones, but the man behind the mask and in the iconic suit was David Prowse, who recently passed away at the age of 85 from COVID-19.
The Star Wars world owes a lot to the menacing Prowse, who greatly contributed to one of the greatest movie villains in history. And also, one of the best dad characters, depending on how you view Vader’s grand arc in the story.
His management company released a statement announcing the news.
“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 M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85,” Bowington Management said on Twitter Sunday.
His former agent released a statement to the BBC, saying “May the force be with him, always! Though famous for playing many monsters, for myself and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.”
In addition to playing Vader, he also played Frankenstein’s monster in three different movies, but the role he repeatedly said his favorite was in a series of road safety campaigns in the U.K.
Social media was flooded with praise for the man behind the mask, as Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, took to Twitter to say a few words about his movie dad.
“So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader. Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”
So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader. Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP pic.twitter.com/VbDrGu6iBz
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) November 29, 2020
David Prowse rehearsing with Alec Guinness. pic.twitter.com/CnaLKLnZku
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) November 30, 2020
George Lucas released a statement to StarWars.com and said he made “Vader leap off the page and onto the big screen” and contributed to the success of a memorable, tragic figure.
George Lucas pays his respects to David Prowse
“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. May he Rest In Peace”
— Star Wars Facts & Leaks (@SWTweets) November 30, 2020
Prowse was originally given the choice between being Chewbacca or Vader, and once said he chose Vader because “you always remember the baddie.” Peter Mayhew was given the role of Chewbacca, and the late actor’s foundation also paid tribute to Prowse.
— Peter Mayhew Foundation (@TheWookieeRoars) November 29, 2020
William Shattner also paid tribute to his friend, and his role as a movie dad, which is true, from a certain point of view.
Saddened to wake up to the news that my Twitter friend David Prowse passed away. David, a literal giant among men, played many roles in his career. His most famous role was being the misunderstood father who tried to give the universe to his very disobedient twins. #DarthVader
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) November 29, 2020
Even Rosario Dawson, the latest to play a pivotal character in the Star Wars universe, paid tribute to Prowse after the news broke.
— Rosario Dawson (@rosariodawson) November 29, 2020
“The force is with you and your loved ones,” she wrote. “Always has been, always will be.”