By Erin Free

“Why can’t two Spanish filmmakers make a movie about the guy who was behind the mask of Darth Vader?” asks Toni Bestard from his European nation home, not the first place that you think of when Star Wars is mentioned. But that’s exactly what he and his Majorca-based collaborator, Marcos Cabota, have done with their documentary, I Am Your Father, which marks a striking tribute to actor, David Prowse, the man who forebodingly wore the raven-black costume of the villainous Darth Vader, and embodied his fierce, imposing physicality in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return Of The Jedi.

But when it came time to finally reveal the face of Darth Vader in that final installment, David Prowse was replaced by veteran stage actor, Sebastian Shaw. In a further snub to this loyal servant of the Star Wars franchise, the switch was done behind Prowse’s back, with the performer only finding out about his replacement by accident. Many reasons were given – that the unmasked Darth Vader needed to be considerably older than the then 48-year-old Prowse, and that the role demanded a more experienced actor than Prowse – but Prowse has always believed that it was because he’d spoken out of turn about the film to the press, even accidentally spoiling the plot point that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father. Ever since, the relationship between David Prowse and Star Wars creator/owners, Lucasfilm, has been a chilly one. “David saw the film last October, and he was very happy with it,” says Bestard. “He told us that it was the first time that anyone had told the truth about the story of his life. We were very excited about that.”

Largely driven by the intense passions of Marcos Cabota (“I am a generational fan,” laughs Bestard. “I grew up with this film, but Marcos is a hardcore fan. He collects merchandise and that kind of thing”), I Am Your Father not only acts as a biography of David Prowse (a champion bodybuilder who also found fame as Green Code Man, a superhero character created to courage pedestrian traffic awareness in the UK), but also as a point of closure for the now 81-year-old performer, who has also appeared in the likes of A Clockwork Orange (1971), Up Pompeii (1971), and numerous Hammer House Of Horror films. As a sideline to their telling of Prowse’s life story, Bestard and Cabota also reshoot the final scenes of Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return Of The Jedi to include the actor in the sequence that he always felt should have been his. “That was the real David Prowse moment,” says Bestard. “It was more important to show the sequence to him than it was for it to be included in the film. He’s so disappointed with everything that has happened to him in the past.”

“David saw the film last October, and he was very happy with it. He told us that it was the first time that anyone had told the truth about the story of his life. We were very excited about that.”

Disappointingly, the reshot scene was not allowed to be included in I Am Your Father. “Lucasfilm are really strict with the rights to the films, and what is allowed to happen with them,” says Bestard with obvious sadness, clocking yet another slight against Prowse from the company. “We haven’t had any feedback from Lucasfilm. We sent them the film last year, because we had a contract with them because we’d purchased images from the film, and we had to show them the documentary. I presume that they’ve been busy with the new Star Wars films, but we haven’t heard anything from them,” Bestard laughs. He and Cabota did, however, send two emails to George Lucas requesting that he be interviewed for the film, but they were declined. “They did wish us luck though,” Bestard says of whoever answered the emails on the filmmaker’s behalf.

Though Lucas declined to appear, I Am Your Father does feature a number of major players, including producers, Gary Kurtz (who worked on the first two films) and Robert Watts, who was there for all three. “Robert Watts was the last person that we interviewed,” Bestard explains. “When we looked at the film, we really felt that we needed someone else. We needed someone who had been involved with Return Of The Jedi. We finally got Robert Watts’ email, and we contacted him. He was really nice. He said, ‘Okay guys, come to my house, and I’ll speak with you.’ He was one of the best interviews. He’s an incredible guy, and he’s very important to the documentary. It was great to have him involved.”

Have his experiences telling the story of David Prowse taught Bestard anything about the movie industry? “It’s a hard business,” he replies. “There are a lot of sharks in this business. David Prowse is a big, tall, strong man, but he’s really a little fish in this industry full of sharks. He’d always dreamed of being a bodybuilder, which led him to becoming an actor. He didn’t understand what the film business was like. He talked to the press as a normal guy from the south of London. He didn’t feel like an actor; he just felt like a normal guy. He’s always surprised by the things that have happened to him.”

In a nice turn of events, Australia is the first country outside of Spain to pick up I Am Your Father for distribution. “I hope that the fans in Australia enjoy it because it’s been three years of our lives,” laughs Bestard. “We’ve been working very hard on this. It’s very hard to get a film out into the world from Spain, so we were always thinking about international distribution. We’re very happy that one of the first countries that we’re going to after Spain is Australia. We’re very excited and proud about that.”

I Am Your Father is available now on DVD.

  • Bradley
    6 October 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Fantastic doco. I know star wars had some controversy to the films and this brings it out. Glad I saw it and its good for David, played a villain in front of the camera. He is not a villain behind the camera. Also the world gets to know David. Thanks for making the movie before David is no longer with us, and we would have never known the story form his words. I hope we get to see the reshot scene soon. I’m huge Star Wats fan it should be shown and mater will be resolved for David, Lucas Films, and the fans. It will also complete the doco

  • Al Layn
    Al Layn
    25 November 2016 at 6:24 pm

    What a stupid movie. It builds up to an alleged reshot scene of ROTJ, but we never see it. Total jip as it is not included in the movie.

  • Daniel Marcus
    1 December 2016 at 7:08 am

    Not understanding why we can’talk see the footage, fans do “fanmade” movies all the time recreating scenes, this shouldn’the be any different.
    Wonderful doc though.

  • Tamas
    22 February 2017 at 8:48 pm

    I would love to see the Vader death scene with Dave Prowse. I just saw the doco, it was awesome. I think all Star Wars fans would want to see Dave Prowse play that last scene. To Toni Bestard and the people that made this doco… well done, absolutely well done! Dave looked so happy at the end, well done!

  • Neil
    22 July 2018 at 11:31 am

    Great work on the doco. The humanity, compassion & persistance shown by all involved is admirable. Understandably some who commented above expressed disappointment in not being able to view the reconstructed scene. Even though you are not alone I think to focus on that misses the real point. Dave deserved to be given the opportunity the finish the job. He has now and it will without doubt be seen one day. Keeping it suppressed, as history has demonstrated so many times, will only give it more gravitas when it does. A more fitting, albeit still unjust, outcome for a defining character in one the most defining roles in cinema history. Well done mate!

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