Back in the day, when I was editor in chief of Starlog magazine, we did extensive coverage of all “star-related” things, especially Trek and Wars. We covered Star Wars from the time the first movie was in early production. We interviewed everyone; we covered the special effects; we revealed that R2-D2 was both a robot and a man in a machine.
In issue number 23, we featured an exclusive interview with David Prowse, the British body-builder, weightlifter and actor who portrayed Darth Vader in the first three films. He’s a really good-natured kind of guy and was happy to come up to the Starlog office when he hit Manhattan. In one of my back-of-the-issue editorials there is a photo of David and me engaged in an arm wrestle. Of course, we didn’t actually arm wrestle—he would have torn my arm right off my body.
Prowse was excited about the first movie’s reception and eagerly anticipating the release of The Empire Strikes Back. But he was crushed that George Lucas had chosen another actor to voice the roll that Prowse was in the process of making famous. Obviously, James Earl Jones did a wonderful, iconic job with the voice. But according to Prowse, Lucas had promised him that his own voice would be used, and that, ultimately, when Vader was unmasked, he would be inside the suit. So you can imagine his angst when Return of the Jedi came out and another actor was used in the unmasking scene.
He has been complaining about this ever since, to the point where apparently Lucas—or whoever makes these decisions for George—has Prowse banned from appearing at any and all official Star Wars conventions. Ouch! So this has gone from “famous feud” to an apparent act of revenge. Kind of ironic. You see, the third film was originally entitled Revenge of the Jedi, but George changed it because he realized that the Jedi did not engage in revenge—they were above that kind of petty behavior.