As Disney is on the verge of celebrating the latest installment of the Star Wars saga, Rogue One, there is one Sith lord who is a little salty that he didn't receive an invitation. David Prowse, the original actor behind the Darth Vader mask, expressed his disappointment at not being asked to appear for even so much as a cameo in the new movie.
When Huw Fullerton of Radio Times approached Prowse backstage at a London Film and Comic-Con event and asked how the retired actor and body builder felt about his character making a comeback in Rogue One, Prowse responded:
"I didn’t know anything about Darth Vader coming back actually."
While Prowse went on to say that he thought the return of Darth Vader was "wonderful," he did seem to feel a bit slighted that he hadn't been offered to reprise the role himself — especially given that James Earl Jones, the voice of Vader, will be reprising his role:
"It’d be nice to be offered the job again, because I’m still fit and healthy, and I’m still Darth Vader in and around the country."
This is far from the first time that Prowse and Lucasfilm (and now Disney) have butted heads. It all started way back during A New Hope, when Prowse was under the impression that he would be providing the voice as well as the body for Darth Vader. Apparently, George Lucas always planned to find another voice actor for the role, but neglected to tell this to Prowse, who delivered all of the lines while filming on set.
Perhaps in retaliation or merely in a moment of absent-mindedness, Prowse spilled the beans about the surprise ending of the series, the biggest twist in cinematic history, the whole "Luke, I am your father" thing, two whole years before the film came out. While most viewers today have probably forgotten that little tidbit (or were born so much later that it was completely irrelevant), George Lucas never did. The animosity only grew from there.
Prowse himself reports that he has never seen a penny from Return of the Jedi. This is a sneaky yet all too common trick that results from the fact that he signed a net profit contract, which indicates that he would make a percentage of the profit that the film brought in. Unfortunately, many studios have become experts at ensuring that their movies never see a cent of profit on paper. Despite the fact that Return of the Jedi had a budget of merely $32.5 million and bringing in a staggering $1,135,503,765 since its initial release in 1983, it is still recorded on paper as operating at a loss. Seth, a /Film reader, posted the following explanation for how this is possible:
How do they do this? Well first, imagine that George Lucas decided to go to New York tomorrow to talk about showing Return of the Jedi in 3D. And he stayed at the Ritz Carlton, ordered sushi at 3 a.m. from room service and used the hotel phone to call Bahrain to make prank calls.
Well, 26 years after the release of the film, the accountants at Lucasfilm are going to charge $86,000 to the costs of Return of the Jedi. I am NOT joking. This is what they do. If George Lucas utters the words Star Wars and he’s spending money, they’re putting it on the red line for one of those films.
As nearly all of the original Star Wars cast gathered back together again during The Force Awakens and related promotional appearances, Prowse was noticeably absent. The then 80-year-old told The Sun:
"Today I am a shadow of my former self. I can barely walk and struggle to even remember what I did yesterday. My wife won’t have anything to do with Darth Vader and says Star Wars has been an intrusion into our life. People ask what went wrong with George Lucas but to be honest, I still don’t really know."
(This is quite a contrast from his more recent statement claiming to be "fit and healthy" enough to appear in Rogue One.) He also added:
"No one bothered to contact me about the new movie [The Force Awakens] and to be honest I don’t care. I don’t even own Darth Vader’s mask anymore."
In 2010, Prowse appeared in the documentary The People vs. George Lucas. Shortly thereafter, he was banned from attending Star Wars conventions. Prowse told The Sun that he wasn't aware that his words would be used to portray Lucas in such an unfavorable light:
"You have no idea where these interviews are going to go and this one found its way on to the documentary. Obviously Lucas didn’t like it."
Despite being banned from official Star Wars conventions, the 81-year-old earns his living selling photographs on his website and making fan appearances at Cons selling autographs for £20 a piece.
Do you think David Prowse should be invited back into the Star Wars family?