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The Voice of Darth Vader: Before James Earl Jones
February 8, 2010 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Came across this video today and thought I'd share. The original track of Darth Vader's voice as performed by the British actor that played him, David Prowse. Imagine how different Star Wars would have been if they had left it like this. From the 2004 documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy.
posted by WhoseVoice (56 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha, it sounds like Monty Python.
posted by smackfu at 1:19 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


He kinda sounds like Dark Helmet.
posted by The Whelk at 1:21 PM on February 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


Huh. I almost expected him to offer to nip around to the shop for some biscuits. I can understand that guy's incredulity.
posted by LD Feral at 1:22 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's what I was thinking. He totally sounds like Dark Helmet. Wonder if Mel Brooks had any idea.
posted by WhoseVoice at 1:23 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do I get to say eponysterical? It's my first time
posted by Think_Long at 1:26 PM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think he's Welsh. That's hilarious. No welshman could ever get to be a Sith lord-- they're way too nice (unless you're a sheep or an English rugby fan).
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:27 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. That version of Vader is not menacing at all.
posted by brundlefly at 1:30 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if James Earl Jones ever heard this track? I mean, he has to emote (in part) according to the body movements, which Prowse corresponds to his own voice. I could see it going either way for Jones -- it could be helpful, but it could also steer him away from where he would want it to go.

Maybe they just said, "Hey James, we just want you to act upon what you see and emote accordingly."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:31 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Admiral Fang, fetch The Comfy Chair!"
posted by briank at 1:31 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


That version of Vader is not menacing at all.
Obviously Lucas had invented time travel and had warped Hayden Christensen back to the 70s to play the part. I thought everyone knew this. "David Prowse" is just a cover.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kind of like this guy.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2010


This is interesting, as the voice track is usually what's laid down first, and the animation or puppetry added as the animator/puppeteer brought the vocal performance to life. The exception is dubbing, which very rarely goes well... even Studio Ghibli backed up by Disney has a hard time selling it.

James Earl Jones was =dubbing= his lines, and considering the iconic awesomeness of his performance, this speaks volumes about his ability as an actor.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:37 PM on February 8, 2010


WolfDaddy: "Obviously Lucas had invented time travel and had warped Hayden Christensen back to the 70s to play the part."

Implying that soon we won't have to put up with him in the present. Excellent!
posted by brundlefly at 1:38 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


News for you guys - anyone would have sounded like they were talking in a tin can in that helmet - even James Earl Jones.

You simply cannot get quality recorded film sound from a person in a full mask. It has to be dubbed in later.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:42 PM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think he's Welsh.

Welsh? Geographically not far off. Dave Prowse is from Bristol. Here's Dave in his other famous role.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:45 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo!
posted by darkstar at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


le morte de bea arthur: "Here's Dave in his other famous role ."

I thought you meant this.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:48 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oi! That's teh Green Cross Code Man you're mocking! Without him I probably would have probably have been hit by a bus whilst crossing the road or something.

Personally I think they should have gotten voice of Darth Maul to do all the kung-fu actiony bits.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on February 8, 2010


I will say that with that voice, Vader would be a lot more believable as the father of the guy who says "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!"
posted by Greg Nog at 1:51 PM on February 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


James Earl Jones was an inspired replacement. (Some language.)
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:52 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best non-JamesEarlJones Vader is Eddie Izzard in Death Star Canteen – now in Legovision.
posted by WCityMike at 1:52 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Funny thing is, they used someone else's voice for that Green Cross Code PSA.
Here's a later one showcasing his voice in all its Bristolian glory.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:53 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oi can't read and oi can't rite
but that don't really matter
'cos I am a country boy
and oi can drive a tractor TIE Foighter.
posted by Abiezer at 1:54 PM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sadly, Stanley Kubrick destroyed all the footage of Rick Moranis auditioning for the bodyguard role in A Clockwork Orange.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find your lack of bass resonance disturbing.
posted by Babblesort at 1:54 PM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Greg Nog: I will say that with that voice, Vader would be a lot more believable as the father of the guy who says "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!"

Not if the guy who said that line did it this way.
posted by WCityMike at 1:56 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. Vader as a mid-level, bitchy, Tory functionary. That almost ruins the FIRST three for me.
posted by Mcable at 1:57 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]




Wow. Vader as a mid-level, bitchy, Tory functionary. That almost ruins the FIRST three for me.

it just makes them more accurate.
posted by The Whelk at 1:59 PM on February 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


I thik we've finally found Chad Vader...
posted by darkstar at 2:00 PM on February 8, 2010


Can I just leave this here? Because I still find this hilarious. Aha!
posted by Servo5678 at 2:00 PM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I find my lack of proofreading disturbing.
posted by darkstar at 2:01 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


disturbing is this lack, I find.
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on February 8, 2010


This does show, quite audibly, how critical Vader was to the series; take that voice out and the whole thing falls apart. JeJ was an inspired choice.

Made Lucas a few bucks, too.
posted by Malor at 2:06 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also in Empire of Dreams, Carrie Fisher says they referred to him as "Darth Farmer" because of his very thick rural English accent.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:16 PM on February 8, 2010


Actually he sounds like Stewie from Family Guy.
posted by Splunge at 2:17 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obviously Lucas had invented time travel and had warped Hayden Christensen back to the 70s to play the part.

This theory would make more sense if there was any kind of semblance of cohesion between the two trilogies.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:27 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Green Cross Code.
posted by panboi at 2:31 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are parrrt of the Rebel Alloiance, and a traiturrr! Take her away! Fetch me coider and me wellies! I'm off to the barn to sing show tunes with the sheep.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:39 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you've ever seen the TV version of "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy" there's a scene where a famous rock star is spending a year dead for tax reasons. Ford tries to talk to him, and a really big guy tells them that he's the rock star's bodyguard. He says something to the effect that the rock star's body safe is his responsibility. "And keeping your body safe is not my responsibility", he says nastily. (Or something like that.)

The bodyguard was David Prowse.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:06 PM on February 8, 2010


I quote: 'as for the performance of Superintendent Harry "Snapper" Organs as Sancho Panza, the audience were bemused by his high-pitched Welsh accent and intimidated by his abusive ad-libs.' The "Western Daily News" said: 'Sancho Panza (Mr Organs) spoilt an otherwise impeccably choreographed rape scene by his unscheduled appearance and persistent cries of "What's all this then?"'"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:36 PM on February 8, 2010


I once gave a friend an 8x10 of Darth Vader signed by James Earl Jones. That was interesting to me because JEJ didn't really portray Darth. Suitably ironic, sorta.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 3:44 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a bit in the same doco where you hear "on set" recording of Peter Mayhew saying Chewbacca's lines (which were then dubbed as "grahshshahraaaaaggh" in post-production). His lines actually make sense and a very very small amount of credit is due to Lucas' writing that you can take Chewbacca's English lines out and still follow what he's saying.

Apparently they did much the same for Jabba in RotJ.
posted by John Shaft at 3:46 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also interesting: According to CNN, JEJ declined to have his name appear on the credits of both “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back” claiming that he felt his contribution wasn't significant enough to warrant a mention. He did eventually bow to pressure and agree to have his name appear of the credits for the third Star Wars film: “Return of the Jedi.”
posted by WhoseVoice at 3:54 PM on February 8, 2010


I always thought it rather amusing that I had the pleasure of meeting "both halfs" of Darth Vader... David Prowse at Dragoncon and James Earl Jones during his appearance in the Toronto production of the stage musical "Cats" at the Elgin Theatre, where he played "Old Deuteronomy". (I still have both their autographs stored away somewhere; Prowse's on a Vader postcard, Jones being beside his photo in the Cats program book.)
posted by Jade Dragon at 5:04 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


For me, this will always be David Prowse's finest moment. It's the silver loincloth that makes it, really.
posted by phooky at 5:05 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Silver loincloths make everything, really.
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
posted by bwg at 5:09 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank god that not only did Lucas replace Prowse with James Earl Jones, but that he also eventually saw the light and replaced Jason Wingreen with Temuera Morrison!

SPACEHAMBURGER
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:01 PM on February 8, 2010


For me, this will always be David Prowse's finest moment.
Hee! That conk on the noggin was unexpected.
posted by tellurian at 6:16 PM on February 8, 2010


A discussion of Vader's voice without a link to Snatch Wars? (previously) For shame.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:30 PM on February 8, 2010


"both halfs" of Darth Vader... David Prowse at Dragoncon and James Earl Jones
Poor old Sebastian Shaw... the forgotten Vader.

That said, Prowse's back problems were so bad by Empire that Bob Anderson was doing all of Vader's fight scenes.
posted by John Shaft at 7:34 PM on February 8, 2010


I spent new year's eve a couple of years ago with Bristolian friends-of-friends who grew up with Prowse and knew him mainly as a swimmer and bodybuilder. "He played that Garth Vader in that film, what was it called?".
posted by nja at 11:20 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


He wanted to play Superman too... which would have been awesome.

In a television interview he related how his response to being told "We've found our Superman" was "Thank you very much." Then he was told that Reeve had been chosen and he was only to be a trainer


Even more sadly he's a UKIP supporter.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:53 AM on February 9, 2010


Imagine how different Star Wars would have been if it had decent writing, directing, and acting.
posted by juiceCake at 11:32 AM on February 9, 2010


Imagine how different trolling would have been if it had decent effort put into it.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on February 9, 2010


Imagine how different trolling would have been if it had decent effort put into it.

Fortunately no trolling in this thread. Imagine that, different opinions are not trolling.
posted by juiceCake at 5:49 PM on February 11, 2010


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