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Darth Vader actor and Croydon resident Dave Prowse on returning as Green Cross Code man

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A LONG time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the actor who played Darth Vader was known to millions as the Green Cross Code Man.

Now Dave Prowse, 79, has stepped back into the shoes – but not the suit – of his other famous alter-ego for a relaunched Green Cross Code campaign aimed at adults rather than children.

Prowse is most famous for playing the notorious villain Darth Vader in Episodes 4, 5 and 6 of the Star Wars franchise and has called Carlyle Road, in Addiscombe, his home since 2000.

The former bodybuilder, who used the force to become British Heavyweight Weightlifting Champion for three years running in the early 1960s, said he was keen to stop any Luke Jaywalkers out there from getting into trouble on the roads.

Prowse said: "I think it's really important because adults are so unaware, they are so engrossed in 101 other things whether it be their iPhone or headphones, they don't notice what's around them.

"The number of children in road accidents fell hugely when we ran the original campaign in the 1970s, so people do listen.

"I tried to get back into the original [Green Cross Code Man] costume but only the shoes fit me."

Prowse, who says Croydon is a "great place to live" was appointed MBE for services to charity in 2000 but will forever be remembered as cinema's arch-villain.

"Star Wars has taken over everything I've ever done," he added.

"I still go to lots of conventions all over the world which are fantastic.

"I enjoyed working on episodes 4, 5 and 6 but I think they dropped a clanger with the last ones; they were cobblers."

With a new trio of sequels being filmed at the moment, interest in the Star Wars franchise has never been higher.

But although most of the old cast have been asked back, Prowse never received the call.

He said: "I haven't seen the scripts for the new ones but I think they are going to be very good. They've been asking whether I want to come to the launch and the premieres so that's exciting for me.

"I wish I was involved in some way. Obviously my character's been killed off now but I would like to be involved in some way, I could be any character in a mask."

A famous myth peddled by fans of the sci-fi films is that George Lucas chose to dub over Prowse's voice with that of American actor James Earl Jones because the Addiscombe resident's Bristol accent was too strong. This is something that irks him to this day.

"It's a painful story," Prowse said.

"I learned all the lines and delivered them all on set but through the mask they couldn't hear them properly. I had a chat with George Lucas and he said we would go and record it in the studio in America.

"But once the film was done they chased back to America and they hadn't realised they hadn't dubbed my voice.

"At that point, it would have cost too much money to get me to America, so they got James Earl Jones in, who is a fantastic actor and did a brilliant job.

"But it was quite upsetting everyone thought I wasn't used because of my accent. I could have done just as good a job, I wasn't going to say 'ooh arr lightsabre', but I have to live with that."

Darth Vader actor and Croydon resident Dave Prowse on returning as Green Cross Code man


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