George Lucas Blamed Beloved Star Wars Actor For Ruining His Best Movie

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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While James Earl Jones provided the iconic voice for Star Wars villain Darth Vader, it was bodybuilder David Prowse who donned the suit and brought the Dark Lord of the Sith to life. Sadly, George Lucas and David Prowse had an epic falling out that lasted for many years, and this led to the actor getting shunned, both on set and at various Star Wars events. Worst of all, it now seems the origin of their feud involves a false accusation on the part of Lucas about Prowse supposedly spoiling Return of the Jedi.

Vader Lets The Loth-Cat Out Of The Bag

george lucas

The origin of the feud between George Lucas and David Prowse goes all the way back to 1978. After the first Star Wars film became a blockbuster success, everyone involved became celebrities, including the man beneath the legendary Darth Vader costume. While signing autographs and posing for pictures at a store in California, Prowse revealed something truly shocking: that Darth Vader was, in fact, Luke Skywalker’s father.

In the pre-internet era, this bombshell revelation didn’t spread any further than a single newspaper. George Lucas was therefore happy (more or less) with how surprised the world was at the revelation that Luke Skywalker’s daddy was the embodiment of pure cinematic evil. However, David Prowse had already taken his first steps down the path of the Dark Side by dishing about future movies, and that would sadly end up dominating his destiny.

Second Offense?

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Fast forward to 1982, one year before The Return of the Jedi hits theaters: a UK tabloid ended up leaking the news that Darth Vader died at the end of the trilogy. Because the actor had previously been all too happy to blab to fans and the press about Star Wars movie info, George Lucas blamed David Prowse for the latest leak. The results were immediate…not only was Prowse, in his words, “ostracized while on the movie,” but he would continue to get the cold shoulder from Lucas for the rest of his life.

Lucas Vs. Prowse

george lucas

Sadly, the feud between George Lucas and David Prowse lasted decades, with volleys back and forth: for example, an angry Prowse later took swipes at Lucas in the documentary The People Versus George Lucas. As for Lucas, he made sure that Prowse was banned from official Star Wars conventions in 2010, only a decade before the actor’s untimely death. In a final, bitter irony, this decades-long feud began and was sustained by simple misunderstandings.

Vader Was Innocent?


For example, Prowse couldn’t actually know that Vader was Luke’s father in 1978. By the time he was happily signing autographs at that store in California, an early draft of The Empire Strikes Back featured Luke talking to a Force ghost of his very dead dad. It seems like the Darth Vader actor pulled this revelation out of the ether, and by sheer happenstance, it ended up being correct. Or if you want to give Prowse a more charitable reading here, it’s entirely arguable that it was Lucas who stole Prowse’s idea about Luke’s parentage.

As for that leak about Vader dying in Return of the Jedi, the reason George Lucas blamed David Prowse is that the tabloid headline with the leaked info read “Darth Vader to be killed off in the next movie, in an interview with David Prowse.” What actually happened was that the newspaper (the Daily Mail) called Prowse while he was at the gym and claimed they wanted to talk about his weightlifting career, and that’s when the reporter blindsided the actor with news that his character would die and that another actor would be under the helmet. 

A Sad Ending

The provocative headline, however, was designed to make it sound like the leaked Vader info came straight from Prowse. It’s a typical tabloid ruse designed to fool readers, but in a terrible twist, it ended up fooling George Lucas as well. To our knowledge, he never reconciled with David Prowse, meaning that the Darth Vader actor died bitterly feuding with the Star Wars creator, all over a series of misunderstandings and misleading headlines.