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Classic Movie Characters: Darth Vader

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Played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones in Star Wars (1977, dir. George Lucas) and two later films

In 1977, moviegoers feverishly wondered: What was this heavy-breathing, black-caped, Dr. Doom–looking thing? A robot? A man? Both? With every guess at the evil behind the mask, this Dark Lord’s mystique grew. With his megalomaniacal determination and merciless sadism—not to mention those flashes of fascist symbolism—Darth Vader is the ultimate badass, and audiences often rooted for him rather than whiny Luke Skywalker.

Defining Moment: In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader reveals himself as Luke’s father. His inner conflict begins here, as he reaches out to his long-lost son (after slicing off the boy’s hand) and proposes that they rule together.

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