Dave Prowse, the British actor and former bodybuilder who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died aged 85.
The weightlifter-turned-actor from Bristol, who also earned an MBE, died after a short illness, his agent Thomas Bowington said in a Facebook post.
Prowse won the role playing Vader due to his impressive two-metre physique, but with his West Country accent deemed not quite suitable, the part was instead voiced by James Earl Jones.
“May the force be with him, always!” Mr Bowington said.
“Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives.”
Mr Bowington called the actor’s death, after a short illness, “a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world”.
Prowse represented England in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in the early 1960s before embarking on an acting career.
I am very sad to hear of the passing of Darth Vader himself, Dave Prowse.
Star Wars and Vader would not have been the same without this man.
My respects go to his family during this time. He is now one with the force. ❤️
RIP and thank you for your performance. 1935-2020 pic.twitter.com/au7CY23ouN
— Star Wars Theory (@SWTheory66) November 29, 2020
He was reportedly spotted by Star Wars director George Lucas when playing a bodyguard in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, and invited to audition for the roles of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.
He once told the BBC he chose Vader over his hairy co-star because “you always remember the bad guys”.
We've learned that Dave Prowse has passed away. He played Darth Vader in the original trilogy, shown here in a rare moment unmasked on set with Boba Fett.
Here is his obituary confirmed moments ago by the BBC News: https://t.co/7kuDGV7TM2 🪦
He was 85 years old. pic.twitter.com/h9rpahhzz8
— Boba Fett Fan Club (@bobafettfanclub) November 29, 2020