Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Part of Darth Vader has died...

The Dark Lord of Awesome!

Although George Lucas wanted to keep it a secret, it took more than one man to portray Darth Vader - Master of the Awesome Side on the silver screen.  No one can forget the man behind the voice, James Earl Jones, and most know of the big man in the suit, David Prowse.  However, even less realize it took Bob Anderson donning the black suit to transform the original stiff Star Wars lightsaber duel between Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi into the epic battles between father and son (Luke Skywalker) in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The circle is now complete...  (yawn)

Although David Prowse could look enormous and make a threatening gesture or two, he proved he wasn't very good with a sword and couldn't do the moves necessary to step it up a couple of notches for ESB.  Enter Swordmaster Bob Anderson at age 57, and the rest is movie history.

Who's your daddy?!

Although being uncredited for his stunt work in movies was nothing new to Bob Anderson, George Lucas was hoping to keep the illusion that Darth Vader was played by only one man until Mark Hamil spilled the beans in a 1983 interview.

"Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting.  It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George (Lucas) I didn't think it was fair any more," Hamill told Starlog magazine, "Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition.  It's ridiculous to preserve the myth that it's all done by one man."

The real deal.

To me there are many times when Lucas does something "his way" or what he might think is right, but it usually turns out to appear selfish and just another dickish move on his part.  I think the fact it took no less three men to portray Darth Vader makes the character all the more amazing, but now part of that trio has passed on at age 89 on New Year's Day.

Bob Anderson, Master of Awesome.

Before making his mark in the movie industry, Bob Anderson served his country in the British Royal Marines in World War II, as an Olympic fencer in 1952, and longtime coach of Britain's national fencing team .  During five decades as a sword master, fight director and stunt performer he worked with actors that ranged from Errol Flynn to Antonio Banderas.  First working with Flynn on The Master of Ballantrae, other career highlights include: various James Bond movies, Highlander, The Mask of Zorro, The Legend of Zorro, The Princess Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

RIP Mr. Anderson, your blade will be missed.


  1. Thank you; I'm not sure that I knew about that but glad to see that such a wonderful character is now been justly recognised.

  2. I never knew that, makes so much sense considering the differing quality of fight sence between the first film and the others. Just a shame its taken his death for me to recognise an obviosuly great man.

  3. Same here. I knew Bob Anderson worked on many movies teaching sword fighting and directing fight scenes, but I never knew until today that it was him battling Luke in ESNB and ROTJ.

  4. Just as the others have said, I'd not heard of Anderson until today reading about his death in a newspaper, what a shame he never got the credit he deserved while he was alive.

  5. Ironically, I am watching the new Blue Ray version of these movies with the kids at the moment (Santa brought it). I didn't know this and thank you for appropriately recognising him.

  6. Didn’t know any of that, quite sad really.

  7. I hadn't heard about this one either but have you ever seen that other hush up from George? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_Wars_Holiday_Special

    I've watched it twice with friends: once sober and then decided to watch it totally inebriated since that was probably the state of the makers at the time of shooting: our favourite quote: "Why the long hairy faces?" says a human trader to Chewie's family...

    1. Yeah, I actually watched it as a kid when it aired on TV. Haven't seen it since though.


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