The Time I Interviewed David Prowse.Posted: February 18, 2013
Yeah. I interviewed Darth Vader.
I had been doing some for work for a local radio station (106.9 SFM!) and I discovered that there was going to be a Sci-Fi convention at the local Town Hall. Following a Google’s amount of research I discovered that this was not going to be a small-fry jumble sale of comic books, figurines and bold t-shirts for those who might decide that day to wear his bright contrasting colours on his chest was this one. Entering the convention made this all the more apparent.
Indeed this was a fairly weird situation: the comic books and figurines being somewhat over-shadowed by a patrolling and ‘life’-sized Dalek named Dave, who everybody called Tim. You know, one of those- ‘we call Dave Tim’- situations. A host of Ghostbusters, who actually had a cigarette break as though mid- exorcism, were also present, along with a full-costumed Darth Vader and a fit-bird named…Tracy (for the purposes of giving her a fake name) who was ruling every nerd’s day by breaking out their temptation glands and overwhelming even the scent of well-matured comic book ink with her Dalek-style skirt and wearing thick glasses- suggesting a base ability to read. How appropriate.
Each of these components of the day were a pleasure to be around- that general good feeling that is enjoyably endured when people are together and know that they can get on well. It is an excitement of that certain blend of social-safety and curious thrill, both mixed here with the presence of an attractive female geek with thick glasses and a nose-piercing all lent an essence of cheerfulness to the large gymnasium and that teen-like hope that ‘she might look at me’.
There was also a sense of awe in the room. Why that was- I couldn’t tell at first, so I simply wandered about the stall and the tables, holding a microphone so as to appear worth paying attention to (I enjoy being looked at; a rare opportunity in radio). And then, as a crowd happened to part before me, I saw Mr Prowse sitting somewhat awkwardly behind a minute table, hunched over it with a pen in his hand and a stern expression upon his face. I made my way over to him so as to get right in his mouth, microphone-wise, and to avoid any encroaching nerves. This was an enlightened move, as it turned out that David Prowse was in demand, and David Prowse had a stern expression not only on his face- it was also behind it.
Standing by his table, I leaned forward and introduced myself-asking if I could record his voice for a sound-bite for the radio-station. This was not the most noble of journalistic endeavours, but fuck that- I’m young and plan to make many mistakes from which to learn from. At first he agreed, but must likely have misheard owing to his next action of shaking his head and turning away as I gestured the microphone towards him and offered him a quote to use. “I don’t do sound-bites” he kindly hinted as he faced distinctly the fuck away from me. I paused for a moment before deciding that I should press my advantage (my sole advantage being that we were still in the same room) and asked him if I could interview the gentleman. He agreed, though was still somewhat offended in his behaviour towards me: snapping slightly and offering me a withering tone of voice and, eventually, a declaration that I was in his mind: “The worst-prepared interviewer I have ever had for 50 years”. I agreed.
In going to the event I had intended to review the scene before me (and before anyone else for that matter) and retrieve a community-based sound-bite from an old film star who was visiting the town. I had no pre-prepared questions for the man, no insight into his distinguished career, and no idea that he was also a bit of a stubborn and heavy-tongued old man. Realising that he was more in the mind-set of looking for a fight (someone to pick on) I excused myself by saying that it was clear I was wasting his time and that I didn’t want to bother him any longer. He then offered me the chance to bugger off and actually come up with some questions of slightly more depth than “Do you like this gymnasium?”. I took him up on this and left to do so.
On returning I spoke to him for about an hour, inter-cut with the average fan/autograph hunter looking to tell him how much they loved him as the Green Cross Code man. He, himself, was somewhat more keen to avoid this history. Body-building, however, was something he was very pleased to be speaking about, and revealed to me that the only reason he didn’t enter the Mr Olympus competition was owing to the time a Mr Britain judge told him, aged 20-odd, that he would never win owing to having ugly feet. On this, I could not agree, but could also not see the feet in question, so I therefore took it upon myself to judge his ankle, which appeared highly attractive when considering his age, gender and arthritis. This was also when I realised that my mind was wandering and I should return my attention to once-muscular, once-bespectacled actor from the two huge films of ‘Star Wars’ (though apparently there are other films in this series, not that I pay much attention- I only know what a Dalek is owing to once meeting this girl in a Dalek skirt at a Sci-Fi convention- I’ll tell you about it sometime) and ‘A Clockwork Orange’.
In the latter film, you may recognise Mr Prowse as being the huge man with thick-rimmed glasses that acts as the protector of the wife-raped husband/writer who endures a vicious attack by Malcom McDowell’s character and his cronies. In asking Mr Prowse of which of his directors he appreciated working with the most, he stated that Stanley Kubrick would probably have to be his choice owing to his artistic integrity and his commitment to his work. That wasn’t to say that Prowse wasn’t rude to Stanley Kubrick too. I could easily tell by now that Prowse was the sort of man that would be very blunt to the point that you would be offended if you didn’t know him well.
Following a slight dispute with Kubrick over his heavy breathing (following his carrying a man in a wheel-chair down some stairs) during a quiet scene, Prowse confronted Kubrick and put it as: “You’re hardly known as one-take Kubrick”, to which Kubrick apparently laughed, possibly because Prowse was massive, possibly because he was awesome. I like to think a little of both. Evidently, being slightly terrified will do a lot for you. Kind of like vengeance- but that’s another tale.
Fear, or anger, may have swayed Prowse into the personality he was eventually swayed into. Being born into extremely poor circumstances, and then developing an arthritic disability, may have caused him to become as blunt as he was with me. I’m not saying that his arthritical-youth caused him to dislike radio-journalists, but it may be a cause for him to be blunt with un-dedicated journalists that were unwilling to prepare themselves and put a maximum of effort into interviewing anybody.
It was this point, the point of positivity, that he focused on as our interview drew to an end. “Why not”, he asked genuinely, “should you not go about something will your all? Devote yourself entirely to whatever is before you, be it body-building or acting or journalism because that’s what you it always deserves!”.
In the end, he told me that the resultant effort I had put into the interview had revealed to him that I was an intelligent young man that was going to do well in the business, something I enjoyed being told very much. I thanked him for his time and generosity and we shook hands.
I left the gymnasium, past the Ghostbusters, and made my way back to the studio. I hadn’t brought the microphone, but had persisted with the interview so as to prove that I could do a good one, which Prowse had evidently agreed with. I had, however, garnered a sound-bite from Dave (Tim) the Dalek. He literally spoke out of his arse.
Damn that girl was sexy. Tracy Bulmer- that’s a good fake name. Unlike mine. Mine’s real.