David Prowse made Darth Vader leap off the page and on to big screen: George Lucas

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Los Angeles: Filmmaker George Lucas paid tributes to David Prowse, the man behind the Darth Vader mask in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, saying the late actor brought a physicality to the role that was essential for the character.

Prowse, an English actor and former bodybuilder, died on early Saturday morning at the age of 85 following a brief illness.

"David brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character. He made Vader leap off the page and on to the big screen, with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader's presence," Lucas, the creator of "Star Wars" film franchise, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lucas first spotted Prowse in Stanley Kubrick's dystopian crime film "A Clockwork Orange" in 1971 and asked the actor to audition for the roles of Vader and the endearing Chewbacca.

The actor chose to try out for the part of Vader, who went on to become one of the most iconic villains in popular culture, and when asked why, he replied, "Everyone remembers the villain."

"David was up for anything and contributed to the success of what would become a memorable, tragic figure. May he rest in peace," Lucas said on Sunday.

Prowse physically played Vader for much of the Sith Lord's screen time and reputedly even got to speak his lines on set, though his west country accent were dubbed over with those of American actor James Earl Jones in post-production, and many of the fight scenes featured British Olympic fencer Bob Anderson.

Prowse once claimed he was initially told that he would be seen and heard at the end of 1983's "Return of the Jedi", the final film in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, when Vader's mask was removed. Instead, British stage actor Sebastian Shaw was used by Lucas.

Prowse and Lucas later fell out, leading to Prowse being banned from official "Star Wars" activities in 2010.

Previously, Mark Hamill, who played Prowse's on-screen son Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" films, paid homage to the late actor on Twitter.

"So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader. Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP (sic)" Hamill wrote.

Prowse also reprised his role as Vader in the video games 'Star Wars: The Interactive Video Board Game' (1996) and 'Monopoly Star Wars' (1997).


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