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What's Up With Prowse?

Some of you may have seen the following quotes by Dave Prowse (who played the body of Darth Vader) recently. IMDB sums up the report nicely:

In an interview with the Canadian Press, Prowse claims that he was the victim of a kind of reverse racism. Since there were no black members in the original cast, Prowse claims, the Lucas production company "were worried to death about black people boycotting the movie. "The only thing they could do at that last stage was to take my voice off and give Darth Vader an obvious black voice." In Return of the Jedi (1983), Sebastian Shaw was seen as the unmasked Vader/Anakin Skywalker. That, said Prowse, "was really to stop me from getting into too strong a negotiating position for future movies."

Cinescape also reported the following quote from Prowse about Darth Vader in Episode 3:

"I think the fans will object if I don't get offered the role," Prowse told the Canadian Press.

We generally try not to slam people on this website, but in a word, there?s only one way to describe these statements: moronic.

Let?s first tackle the claim that Vader needed an "obviously black voice". Can you honestly listed to James Earl Jones? voice and say, "Oh, yeah, that?s a black guy." NO. I think O.J. Simpson?s lawyers established that fact rather bluntly. How about Prowse insinuating that he was slighted by them not using his voice? Actually, who DIDN?T they dub is an easier question to answer. Boba Fett, the pilots, Aunt Beru, Dr. Evizan, etc etc etc were ALL dubbed. None of them were the real actor?s voices. In fact, Lucas fully intended to dub Anthony Daniels? voice up until the last minute. Secondly, Peter Mayhew could have just as easily been Darth Vader as David Prowse was. It is well known that Lucas gave them the choice of who to play, and Prowse picked Vader. Would Prowse be complaining if he had been Chewbacca? I can just imagine his response now:

"They were worried to death about animal lovers boycotting the movie. The only thing they could do at that last stage was to take my voice off and give Chewbacca an obvious animal voice."

Uh-huh, yeah. I think Lucas, at the time, was more worried about people coming to the movie AT ALL rather than black people boycotting it. And if you were trying to prevent black people from boycotting it, why on earth would you give the BAD GUY the black voice? It doesn't make any sense. Finally, if you put up Prowse?s British accent and voice against James Earl Jones?, who would YOU have picked? Yeah, I?d have picked JEJ, too. His voice is much more deep and menacing, which is just what the character needed. Not an "obvious black voice".

David Prowse acts like he is the one and only person who could ever be Darth Vader. In fact, he signs autographs "Dave Prowse IS Darth Vader" as if nobody else helped out. I offer to you the following quotes from Mark Hamill in Starlog #72 from 1983:

"Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader?s fighting," Hamill reveals. "It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George I didn?t think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It?s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it?s all done by ONE man. As a matter of fact, when I shot the fight scene with Darth Vader for Empire, Dave was in America with Tony Daniels touring science-fiction conventions promoting the re-release of Star Wars."

Despite the stuntman substitution, Hamill was persuaded to pose for publicity photos with Prowse in the rehearsal hall. "I thought that was NONSENSE," he charges. "They had us pose in rehearsal clothes with our swords crossed. I had actually been rehearsing all morning with the ?real? Darth Vader, and then Dave just came in for the photo session."

If you ask me, Prowse is starting to believe his own hype. It takes more than one man to portray Darth Vader. Ben Burtt added the unforgettable breathing of Vader. Ralph McQuarrie designed the incredible costume. James Earl Jones gave him the indispensable voice. Bob Anderson, and other stuntmen, gave us those legendary fight sequences. What has David Prowse given the character of Darth Vader? A body to fill the suit and continual high publicity whining about getting the shaft.

Prowse also says that Sebastian Shaw was given the role of the unmasked Vader because it "was really to stop me from getting into too strong a negotiating position for future movies." Hmmm. What position would that be? After all, Anakin would be DEAD in any later movies, and Anakin is really YOUNG in the prequels. Where does Prowse fit in ANY future movies? The actors all sign away their likeness when they joined the film, so it?s not like he wouldn?t get more money from action figures. Let?s face it, Prowse?s face isn?t what they had in mind when they wanted to portray Anakin. Get over it. Lucas didn?t even know if there would even be a sequel to Star Wars when Prowse was originally cast. He may not have even planned to unmask him at that point.

As for his comment that "the fans will object if I don't get offered the role," I strongly beg to differ. In Episode 3, Vader will need to be at his prime. He must destroy thousands of Jedi. He must Battle Obi-Wan Kenobi. He must be in extremely violent action sequences that remind us why he?s the Dark Lord of the Sith and one of the most feared individuals in the galaxy. Prowse isn?t a swordmaster. Prowse isn?t a stuntman. Prowse isn?t nearly in as good physical condition as he was 20 years ago. He recently got out of hip surgery. What can he bring to the character that someone else can?t?

I think he should take notes from Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett. Jeremy is absolutely cool with the fact that other people played Fett. He acknowledges that the voice was dubbed. He?ll flat out tell you that the costume is what makes Fett popular and not his acting. He played the role, had fun, and has moved on. He even says that he probably couldn?t play Fett in Episode 2 because he?s out of shape, unlike Prowse. Prowse should be grateful that he?s able to travel the world, charge $15 bucks for his autograph, and meet people and go places he might not ever have otherwise. He has Star Wars and Lucasfilm to thank for that. I?m sure Lucasfilm has royally screwed him over in the past, but life is too short to dwell on it. As Brian says, "Always look on the bright side of life."

Scott Chitwood

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