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David ‘Dave’ Prowse, the actor behind the iconic portrayal of Darth Vader in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, has died. He was 85.

Formerly a bodybuilder who represented England in the 1960s, Prowse was chosen for the role of Vader in the sci-fi trilogy because of his threatening physique and his 1.98m height. But, James Earl Jones famously voiced the masked character.

His agent, Thomas Bowington, paid tribute to him after his death, which followed a short illness, writing: “May the force be with him, always!”

He referred to Prowse as a hero, despite playing one of the film world’s most popular villains.

“Though famous for playing many monsters — for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives,” said Bowington.

Other than Vader, Prowse famously played the Green Cross Code Man, which encouraged road safety in the UK. The role landed Prowse an MBE in his home country.