Exclusive: ‘Star Wars’ Star David Prowse Gives His Take on Darth Vader’s Voice
David Prowse gives his take on what really happened to Darth Vader’s voice.
When it comes to movie villains one of the most iconic is probably Darth Vader. While the voice of the character may have come from James Earl Jones, the man inside the suit was the British actor David Prowse. We had the chance to speak with David Prowse at Awesome Con and he had many great things to say about playing the great Darth Vader. He also gave his perspective of why his voice was replaced by James Earl Jones.
After discussing the convention and his affinity for traveling across the world for other conventions, we got to discussing “Star Wars.” The first thing that I was curious about was an ongoing rumor about him being offered his choice to play either Darth Vader or Chewbacca. It turns out that the choice was easy for David Prowse given that Chewbacca was presented to him as a “huge Teddy Bear” compared to the film’s main villain Darth Vader.
“Well that happened right at the very beginning, when they were doing the casting. I think [George] Lucas said to me, ‘You’ve got a choice of two characters in the movie’. So I said, ‘Well what are they’? He said, ‘Well there’s this character called Chewbacca which is like a huge Teddy Bear or the alternative, there’s the main villain of the piece’. And I said, ‘Well there’s no choice really. Thank you very much, I’ll have the villain please’.”
Over the years there has been a question that many “Star Wars” fans have asked and there have been a few different answers. Why was David Prowse’s voice overdubbed by James Earl Jones? Some have said that it was planned all along to replace Prowse’s voice but David Prowse told us that it was simply a logical and financial decision. According to Prowse, once production wrapped in the UK, the “Star Wars” crew returned to the USA. At that point it was too expensive to fly Prowse over for voice work so they ended up going with James Earl Jones due to cost.
“What happened was, I did the voice all the way through the movies and I kept on saying to Lucas, ‘What are we going to do about the voice? Because everything I’m saying is coming through inside the mask and it’s obviously no good for reproduction’. And he said, ‘Oh don’t worry, don’t worry. We’ll go into the sound studios and re-record all of your dialogue in the same studios properly’. So I thought, ‘Well that’s lovely, thanks’. And what happened was, they got to the end of the movie, chased back to America immediately because the films were all shot in England, and when they were in America, they suddenly realized that I hadn’t done the overdubbing’. And then of course it was too expensive to get me to fly out to Hollywood to do an hour’s work. So they started looking around and got James Earl Jones. It was a lovely, lovely character, great, great guy. I like him, I’ve met him, and I’ve been to see him in plays and so on and so forth. I think he did a wonderful job but I still think I could have done equally as well given the right opportunity.”
Being part of one of the most influential films of all time is amazing but also a lot to live up to. I was curious if the pressure of being the main villain in the original “Star Wars” trilogy ever got to David Prowse. The pressure didn’t seem to be a problem for Prowse as he seemed very happy and grateful to be part of something as great as “Star Wars.”
“Well I’m very happy to be a major part of the Star Wars trilogy, the three that I really got involved in. And I think it’s done wonders for me. It’s enabled me to travel all around the world doing these sci-fi conventions. And also to play the part of [Darth] Vader, who is now regarded as the ultimate screen villain, is a lovely accolade.”
As part of the cast of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, I was interested to hear David Prowse’s perspective on the current state of the franchise. As expected, Prowse has a special place in his heart for the original films and thinks that nothing has lived up to those films since.
“Well to a certain extent I have, but I don’t think anything they’ve done so far is as good as the first couple. Even the latest one, ‘The Force Awakens’. It’s a nice film, don’t get me wrong, but I traveled 150 miles to go and see it when it first came out and what I didn’t know was that they were having a special showing. The first ever showing of the new movie. So I traveled all this 150 miles to go and see it. So anyway at the end of the movie I was a bit disappointed with it to be honest because I don’t think there was enough action in it. The people I went down to see it in South Wales with said, ‘Be a bit careful about what you say because there are going to be some people waiting outside to see you immediately’. I went out into the foryer of the cinema and it was jam-packed with people. I started signing autographs at 10 o’clock at night and I finished at 2 o’clock in the morning. And every one of them enjoyed the movie. And when I got back to London, my wife and her friends went to see the movie and they thoroughly enjoyed it as well.”
Being a huge fan myself, speaking with David Prowse was a highlight for me among all of our other Film Fad related exclusives. To meet the man behind the Darth Vader mask was a milestone moment and I was more than appreciative of his time speaking with me. He was very gracious as well and pleasant throughout our conversation from beginning to end.
“Thank you, thank you very much. Lovely.”