Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse dead at 85: agent

Agence France Presse

Posted at Nov 29 2020 04:45 PM | Updated as of Nov 29 2020 05:38 PM

English actor David Prowse (left), who played the character of Darth Vader (Dark Vador in French) in the first Star Wars trilogy poses with a fan dressed up in a Darth Vader costume during a Star Wars convention on April 27, 2013 in Cusset. Thierry Zoccolan, AFP

LONDON, United Kingdom (UPDATED) - Dave Prowse, the British actor behind the menacing black mask of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, has died, his agent Thomas Bowington said Sunday.

"It's with great sadness that we have to announce that our client Dave Prowse... passed away yesterday morning at the age of 85," Bowington wrote on Facebook.

"May the force be with him, always!" the agent told the BBC.

Bowington added that Prowse's death was "a truly and deeply heart-wrenching loss for us and millions of fans all over the world".

A former body-builder turned actor, Prowse's towering stature at almost two metres (6.5 feet) clinched him the role of the instantly-recognisable antagonist in the original Star Wars trilogy.

But while he donned the glossy black armour and cape, the Bristol native's strong western English accent meant the filmmakers turned to James Earl Jones for the chilling voice that would emerge from behind the mask.

Prowse nevertheless remained attached to the character, telling AFP in 2013 that he was "the greatest big-screen villain of all time".

Since the original Star Wars trilogy was released in the late 1970s and early 80s, Prowse had travelled the world meeting hardcore fans.