What Was It Like Playing Darth Vader in Rogue One?
There were a lot of things to love about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but heading into (and out of) the movie, there is almost no question that the biggest reason to be excited about the movie was Darth Vader. We haven't seen true-to-form Darth Vader on screen since Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, if you don't count the quick bit at the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Now the actor who played him on screen in the latest live-action Star Wars movie has opened up a bit about taking on the iconic character and how he was brought to life this time around.
British actor Spencer Wilding played Darth Vader in the suit for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but James Earl Jones once again returned to voice the famed Sith Lord. He recently talked about his experience with ITV during a special screening of the movie in his hometown of Rhyl, Wales. Here is what he had to say about it.
"It's awesome. Every person here would love to play Darth Vader. It's just an awesome character. I've got so much love for this town, and all the surrounding towns. This character has got so much presence - it's unbelievable. I'm just one small element of Star Wars. It's a massive production, and it takes a lot to bring the magic of that film. It's just awesome."
It clearly wasn't lost on Spencer Wilding how cool it was that he got to bring Darth Vader to life once again on the big screen for what very well could be the last time ever. Outside of knowing that it was awesome, he also took the preparations very seriously and did his best to make sure the Darth Vader scenes were authentic. By most accounts, he did a very good job of that. Here is what he had to say about his preparations for the role and how the creative team made sure it was as true to the character as could be.
"We studied the movements of Darth Vader. We had a trainer who got it bang on. We wanted to keep it 'Darth Vader!' It's every actor's dream. I'm still pinching myself!"
In the original Star Wars trilogy, it was David Prowse who actually played Darth Vader on screen, though, most people associate the role with James Earl Jones, since he provided the voice. David Prowse still embraces his turn as Darth Vader wholly, but at the age of 81 couldn't put on the suit again for Star Wars: Rogue One. So, it was Spencer Wilding who had the honor of doing so. Well, at least partially. An actor by the name of Daniel Naprous is also credited as Darth Vader for the movie. It is believed that Daniel Naprous was in the costume for the significant reshoots that were done, but Spencer Wilding was in the major scenes, including the big scene at the end which was easily one of the high points of the entire movie. It could easily be argued that was one of the best Darth Vader scenes in the history of the Star Wars franchise, so playing him on screen for it is going to go down as a pretty big honor when all is said and done.
Prior to the release of Rogue One, it had been a long time since Star Wars fans had seen a truly threatening Darth Vader on screen, so it was certainly a treat to see it done in this first standalone Star Wars movie from Disney and Lucasfilm. There has been a little bit of backlash over the decision to resurrect Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia using CGI, so luckily director Gareth Edwards was able to do Darth Vader justice and avoid any controversy over that aspect of the movie, since he is one of the most if not the single most beloved movie villain of all time. Spencer Wilding has worked fairly steadily as an actor in shows like Game of Thrones but now, if nothing else, he will probably always have a home at Star Wars fan conventions.