Dave Prowse, renowned for his portrayal of Darth Vader in George Lucas‘ iconic Star Wars trilogy, captivated audiences as the masked antagonist. However, few fans are aware of the reason behind Lucas’ decision to ban Prowse from official Star Wars engagements.
The dispute between the men arose when Prowse inadvertently divulged one of cinema history’s most significant moments. The move resulted in a ban and ignited a feud between Prowse and Lucas that lasted for decades.
David Prowse accidentally leaks a major plot twist in ‘Star Wars’
The Empire Strikes Back, the sophomore entry in the Star Wars series, arguably features one of the most jaw-dropping plot twists in the history of cinema. The iconic moment between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader has left an indelible mark on popular culture.
Back in 1980, Lucasfilm was keen to keep the “I am your father” surprise hush-hush before and during the sequel’s launch. However, Prowse let slip the spoiler to the media a good two years before the movie’s premiere.
In a 1978 interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Prowse playfully alluded to a potential plot twist in the impending film. A portion of the article, uploaded to Facebook, undeniably displays Prowse unveiling the surprise.
“Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are hooked up in a do-or-die light saber duel when Luke learns that Darth is, in fact, his long-lost father,” Prowse joked about a forthcoming film in the franchise.
Prowse’s words were not a big deal at the time, as many thought he was just joking. He later argued that he was oblivious to the plot twist, and his disclosure was purely serendipitous.
George Lucas banned David Prowse after a second alleged leak
Fast forward to 1982, a year before Return of the Jedi hit the screens, a UK tabloid leaked that Darth Vader was destined to die. Prowse was held responsible for the leak, which only worsened his relationship with Lucas.
In fact, when it came time to unmask Vader, Prowse was replaced by Sebastian Shaw. Prowse would later recall the events that led to the leaked storyline.
Probing deeper into the leak issue, Prowse remembered an interaction with a journalist who had initially called him to talk about his weightlifting career. When the conversation took a Star Wars turn, Prowse accidentally revealed Vader’s fate.
Prowse later explained how everyone on the set isolated him following the leak. Even Lucas refused to speak to him, despite there being six weeks left of filming.
While Prowse was responsible for some major leaks, Lucas had kind words to share following his passing.
George Lucas paid tribute to the Darth Vader actor
Lucas, the man behind Star Wars, eulogized actor Prowse in 2020 after his passing at the age of 85. Despite their complicated history, Lucas acknowledged his role in making Darth Vader “spring to life.”
According to BBC, the Star Wars creator extolled Prowse’s “imposing build and synchronized movement performance”, mirroring Vader’s deep-seated dominance. He portrayed Prowse as “ready for anything”, significantly influencing the evolution of a “memorable, tragic persona”.
Prowse donned the masked Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. The character’s voice was the work of actor James Earl Jones. Sebastian Shaw assumed the role of Vader, alias Anakin Skywalker when his symbolic helmet was finally removed.
Nevertheless, it was Prowse, once a bodybuilder, who first endowed Darth Vader with a “physicality” that Lucas deemed “crucial for the character.”
Prowse may have leaked one of the biggest secrets in movie history, but he will always be loved by Star Wars fans around the globe.