Dave Prowse

Dave Prowse was born in Bristol, UK, on 01 July 1935. As a teenager he became interested in bodybuilding and set his sights on becoming Mr Universe, but was told his feet were too ugly. He then went on to become a competitive weightlifter, eventually becoming British heavyweight weightlifting champion and representing his country in the World Weightlifting Championships. His physique allowed him to enter the world of show business where he has appeared in numerous TV and film roles over the years including Hammer's The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and A Clockwork Orange (1971). He was also well known for playing the Green Cross Code Man in the successful road safety campaign. But it is his role as Darth Vader in 1977's Star Wars that most people will know him for.
Darren Rea caught up with Prowse as his autobiography, Straight From the Force's Mouth, was released on MP3 CD...

Darren Rea: What made you release Straight From the Force's Mouth as an MP3 CD?

Dave Prowse: Somebody suggest that it might be better to have an audio version of the book. I had terrible problems finding a publisher for the book - I think everyone was frightened to death of offending Lucasfilm to be perfectly honest, because of the possible Star Wars content which they had no control over. I decided that I'd produce the book myself and unknown to me, as it were [laughs], the publishers went and published it as quite a large volume.

I published the first part as an autobiography and that turned out to be about 36 chapters - around 420 pages - with lots of photographs. I had loads of photographs left over and I produced a second book which was 450 pages of nothing else but photographs from my career and all the various things I've been involved with.

Unfortunately the two books together weighed 2.5 kilos. It was costing me a fortune to send out. Every time I sent a copy over to America it was costing me almost £50. Just to send it out in this country [UK] it was costing around £9. I managed to get rid of most of the books, but I've now got plans to go to a proper publisher and update it and reduce it in size. Hopefully that should come out in time for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars next year [2007].

But, in the meantime, someone got in touch with me and suggested that we came out with an audio version of the book - which is what we've done. So we now have 8.5 hours of me chatting merrily away [laughs] reading the book. I wasn't very happy with the artwork, mind you, that they did for it. But I had no control of that unfortunately.

DR: I reviewed Straight From the Force's Mouth recently and it was really refreshing to hear a warts and all account of what really went on on the set of the original trilogy; that didn't suck up to the Hollywood machine, or was heavily censored by Lucas.

DP: People always come up to me and say: "Oh! I bet it was great fun to work on Star Wars wasn't it?" And I have to say: "No it wasn't. It wasn't great fun at all. It was bloody hard work."

There were so many problems going on during the making of the film: George Lucas wasn't getting on very well with Gil Taylor [Gilbert Taylor - Director of Photography on Star Wars]; the camera was never ready... There were so many problems and it just seemed to be going on and on. I finished up being on it for five months. It wasn't the fun thing that everyone thinks it was.

DR: I remember reading a story in one of the British tabloid papers just before Return of the Jedi was released where you had been interviewed and said that Vader was the only character that was going to survive in the movie and that all the principle characters were going to be killed off. Years later I heard someone in Lucas claiming that they'd leaked that story to you to see if you were the leak on the production. Is that true?

DP: No. That's absolute rubbish. Do you know I never saw a copy of the script for The Empire Strikes Back. I never saw a copy of the script for Return of the Jedi.

What happened on Jedi was that I was ostracised from the movie. I'd been on it for about a week and they used to send us out pages, we'd learn out dialogue and then go back into the studio the next day and deliver our lines, and then we'd have to sign the pages back in. That's how paranoid they were about secrecy.

When I went into Jedi I knew nothing about the story - I didn't even know who was in it. I'd only been working on it for about 10 days when I got a phone call from the Daily Mail. And the guy said: "Is there any possibility of me coming to do an interview with you?."

I said: "Of course you can. You can come in to see me at the gym, but please don't ask me anything about Jedi because I don't know anything. I can't tell you anything other than I've been on it for a week and the bits I've done; I don't know where they fit into the movie."

He said: "I don't want to talk to you about that. I want to talk to you about your career, your weightlifting, your bodybuilding and all the different things you've worked on. Can I come round and do it this evening?"

So at about seven O'clock he turned up at my gymnasium - this is all in the book - and after about ten minutes of general chit chat he said: "Of course, in this movie you're going to be killed off aren't you?"

I said: "Pardon? What do you mean they're going to kill me off? They wouldn't kill Darth Vader off - he's the goose that's laying the golden egg. He's the most popular character in the movie."

He said: "No, no. They're killing you off. And not only that, but they're doing it in secret so that you don't know what's happening. They're filming in another studio. Do you happen to have a call sheet?"

I looked at the call sheet for the next time I was in and it said: "Dave Prowse - Darth Vader: Studio One," and then underneath it said: "Sebastian Shaw - Anakin Skywalker: Studio 10."

And he said: "There you are. Anakin Skywalker is being played by Sebastian Shaw. And Anakin Skywalker is being revealed as the dying Darth Vader."

I said: "I don't know, so I can't confirm or deny. But I'll have it out with Lucas the next time I go into the studio."

The next day the Daily Mail ran a story under the headline: "Darth Vader to be killed off in the next movie". Underneath it said: "An exclusive interview with Dave Prowse". It looked as though I'd given them all the information. I never had a script so how could I know? I've still never read a script for Empire or Jedi. Even when we were on set... I saw the sound engineer had a copy of the script and I asked him if he minded if I had a look at it and he said: "Yes, I do actually. It's a secret." You couldn't even look at one when you wanted to.

Unfortunately I got hauled over the coals by Lucasfilms because they thought I'd given away all this information to the press. Of course I hadn't, and no matter what I said they wouldn't believe me. The next thing I know I'm virtually ostracised from the movie and my stuntman Bob Anderson, who was the British fencing coach, was doing most of my work. They obviously had to keep me under contract, but they left me well alone and I've never spoken to George Lucas since.

DR: As you never had a script how did they think you'd managed to acquire this information and then leak it?

DP: I don't know. I haven't got a clue. What concerned me most of all is that they wouldn't believe one word I said.

DR: Also, there was another rumour that in Return of the Jedi you were banned from doing the lightsabre scenes because you kept snapping the sabres.

DP: That's absolute rubbish. I enjoyed the lightsabre duels to a certain extent. I did all the lightsabre fights in the first film with Sir Alec Guinness. That was quite pleasant because we had a stunt arranger, Peter Diamond, and I used to train with him and Sir Alec Guinness used to go and train with somebody else. When we were on set Sir Alec and me used to go and practice together - he was lovely to work with.

The same thing happened when we did Empire, I did most of the lightsabre scenes on Empire with Mark [Hamill]. When it started getting dangerous, on the gantries, they brought in Bob Anderson who, being the British fencing coach, was obviously much better than me.

I was pleased, because I didn't really like doing all those duels in that heat and the depravations of the mask and the helmet - I was thrilled to bits that someone else was going to do it.

When we got to Jedi, Bob Anderson was there again doing most of the stunt work. It was primarily because he was a much better fencer than me, and you can not afford to have your principles injured. Some of the stuff was quite dangerous. If I had fallen off the gantry and hurt myself then the whole film would have been held up - if I'd been visible, as it were.

I was also having terrible problems with Lucasfilm over this previous problems and they just wanted to use Bob Anderson whenever they could.

DR: Given those conditions, and how you'd been treated, most actors would have just worked the bare minimum they could get away with, but I was surprised to hear that if it wasn't for you the Emperor's death scene would never have happened.

DP: They wasted a whole week trying to get that scene. I watched them for two days trying to arrange it where they were going to have the Emperor on wires and then lower him down onto Bob Anderson's hands, and of course Bob Anderson couldn't hold him.

They wasted another two days where they used what they call a teeter board, like a seesaw, trying to do it like you see it at the circus - where one bloke stands at the bottom of the seesaw, someone jumps on the top end and the bloke at the bottom goes up in the air and eventually lands on somebody else. They spent two days with Bob Anderson falling all over the place trying to hold this other stuntman.

In the end I went up to Richard Marquand (director of Return of the Jedi), who'd refused to speak to me for the entire movie, and said: "Just what are you trying to do?"

He said: "We're trying to do this stunt where the Emperor gets thrown off the balcony."

I said: "That's easy. You've been p*ssing about here for four and a half days now and you're no closer to getting the scene. The whole thing is really easy. All I have to do is pick him up, lift him above my head and throw him across the balcony."

He said: "Could you do that?"

I said: "I wasn't the heavyweight weightlifting champion for nothing."

He said: "Alright, we'll do that first thing on Monday."

And that's what I did. I went in on Monday morning, picked him up and threw him off the balcony and that was it - done in one take."

DR: And you received no recognition or thanks?

DP: No, not a word of thank you.

DR: You mentioned in your biography your appearance with Carrie Fisher and Billy De Williams at Alexander Palace to relaunch the videos in THX sound. I attended that bash when I was reviews editor at Dreamwatch. I interviewed De Williams, and a colleague of mine interviewed Fisher. And we were both dismayed at how arrogant both of them were - as though it was beneath them to talk to us.

DP: I know. It's been a funny old scene all the way through. I've been sort of politely ignored by everybody. I get absolutely no help from anybody at Lucas. I've not spoken to George Lucas since 1983, to give you some idea. The only time they get in touch with me is to send me solicitors letters about things which I'm doing that they think is offending them. When my book came out I received an order for a copy to be send to Lucasfilm. It was from the Head of the Fan Relations, Steve Sansweet, and he asked for it to be autographed: "To Steve." So I sent his money back and said: "Look, you don't have to pay for one of these books. I'd be only too happy to send it to you - no problem."

I'd had problems with Lucasfilms when I was writing the book. To start with they refused me permission to publish. They said I'd signed a contract in 1976 which precluded me from talking about anything to do with the technical aspects of the film, the financial aspects of the film, or the characters of the movie. I though that was absolutely stupid. I've been touring the World for the last 30 years, promoting Star Wars for all it's worth - about my association with the film, and obviously promoting myself at the same time.

So, I wrote back to them and said: "The book is really not intended as an autobiography. It was purely, and simply, a series of disjointed chapters about the things that had happened to me during my career. I don't know anything about the financial aspects of the movie. I don't know anything about the technical aspects of the movie. And it seems silly that I can talk about Sir Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as much as I want, but I'm not allowed to mention their character names from the movie."

Anyway, a letter came back from their solicitors saying: "Thank you very much Mr Prowse. We agree with what you say and we will be most happy to help you in the publication of your book... and we will only be too pleased to supply you with photographs for your book at $250 a time." [Laughs] And I thought: "Gee! Thanks!" So I just politely ignored their letter and just carried on and published the book myself with no help.

Anyway, this order came through from Lucasfilm. I sent it off to Steve Sansweet and I didn't hear any more. Then I met up with him just recently at San Diego and I said: "How did you like the book?" And he said: "It was big wasn't it?" And I said: "Yes it was. What did you think about it?" And he said: "Well, there are lots of stories that I'd heard different versions of before." And I said: "Well now you know the truth." [Laughs]. Then he walked away and that was it.

What I want to do now is revise the book and bring it up to date - because it's outdated by about five years now. So I'd like to bring it all up to date and offer it to a proper publisher and do a big launch for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars next year. I'd like to bring out, what I call, a proper novel sized book.

DR: I must admit that when I first learned that Straight From the Force's Mouth was 540 minutes in length I thought it might be a slog listening to it - I couldn't imagine any actor having that interesting a career that I could listen to that amount of material. But the time flew by and I could have easily listened to another 540 minutes.

DP: You're not the first person to say this. I've had all sorts of people ringing me up. I sent one over to my webmaster in America. I rang him up and he said: "I can't talk to you at the moment. I'm three and a half hours into listening to your book and I can't stop listening. Call me back." [Laughs].

DR: My girlfriend has never seen the Star Wars movies and she heard some of your CD when I was listening to it in the car, and she was hooked. I thought that it was interesting that someone who is not a Star Wars fan was also riveted by your stories.

DP: I was talking to a guy in Minneapolis recently - he's a big record producer (He had one of the major jobs with the Sam Goody chain over here and then went back to America and is a big executive over there). He said to me: "I've got your book. It's fascinating, all the stories you've got in there. It's amazing the stories you tell about the publicity tour you did on behalf of Lucasfilm. It's a warts and all story. You don't say everything is wonderful and lovely - you tell it as it actually is".

DR: Did you find if difficult to record so much dialogue in a relatively short space of time?

DP: I did actually. The major problem was that I was having problems with my eyes. I have a very slight problem. I have an eye that tends to wander out to the right. Concentrating and keeping my eyes together to read for that long, it took me about four or five days, was not easy. I was in a sort of dimly lit studio on my own and every so often the words would start blurring together. It was one of the most difficult jobs I've ever done.

DR: There's not a lot on the CD about your wife and your family. Is there any reason for that?

DP: The main reason is that my wife loves her privacy. Everyone knows that I'm married, have three kids and two grand children, but that's as far as it goes. My wife hates any sort of intrusion into the house. She doesn't really want anything to do with Star Wars in the house. She says the house is private.

When I had my gymnasium I filled it with Star Wars memorabilia, letters of citations, plaques and pictures of film stars all around the walls. I've got so many citations and plaques that I've received over the years and when I brought them home I said to myself: "I ought to find somewhere nice to put these. I'd like to put them up in the hallway so that when people come into the house they can see all these wonderful letters." I've got letters from President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and my award for my MBE certificate. But my wife said: "No No No No. They can go in the garage or in the loft." [Laughs.]

The only piece of Star Wars memorabilia that I've got in the house is a Compulsion statue. It's a lovely piece and cost about £700. I was given it by the Compulsion company. It's a pewter statue that stands about 3ft high and weighs about 70lb - it's really beautiful. When I got it I thought: "I'll put it at the bottom of the stairs so that when people come into the house they can actually see it at the bottom of the stairs." [Laughs] It stayed there a morning. My daughter came and said: "What on earth is that doing there?" So her and my wife moved it behind the settee in the front room [laughs].

DR: You mentioned that you're going to be updating your book and adding stories from the last five years. Were there also things that you left out of the MP3 CD release because you just didn't have enough time to fit them in?

DP: No, I think I got everything in there that I wanted to. I've kept diaries since 1979 and I just went through the diaries and included all the major things. Some of the more problematic things I left out. I had three years of running three gymnasiums and things weren't always rosy at the gyms. It was a big financial headache running two of the gymnasiums, but I never really dwelt on that at all. There was very little that I missed out.

DR: Looking back on your life. If there was one thing that you could go back and have another shot at, or change, what would it be?

DP: If something goes wrong I don't dwell on it, I just say: "Let's go off on a different tangent." It's like, for instance, when I was younger the only think I ever wanted to be was Mr Universe. All that fell through when I got invited to enter and the chief of the judges told me I had ugly feet and I would never win the competition [laughs]. I thought: "Sod it! That's the end of that then, because I can't alter the shape of my feet without surgery. But at least I can continue training." So I changed over to competitive weightlifting and then became the British heavyweight weightlifting champion.

I was training to go to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, and the Weightlifting Association turned around and said: "I'm sorry, but we don't have enough money to send you - although you qualified and you've been selected." So that was another big blow.

But I think that was probably one of the best things that happened, because if I'd gone to the Olympic championships I think I might have been tempted to continue on with the training. It was a big commitment, I was training for like four or five hours a day, five days a week. I think that if I'd gone to the Olympics and got really enthused - it was the advent of all the drugs and everyone was approaching you to take this and try that - and I think, even though I never wanted to take any of that, spurred on by Olympic competition I may have possibly been persuaded to go down that road. Fortunately I didn't go to the Olympics so that, to me, was the end of another road.

Then I went into show business and that was one of the major happenings of my career. There are a couple of things that happened to me during my career where I think: "If only it had happened..." Arnold Schwarzenegger became world famous from doing one film and that was Conan the Barbarian. I was offered the role of Conan years before Arnold was even considered for it. Unfortunately the producer, who was a guy called Milton Subotsky, who I thought had the rights to the books unfortunately died. The rights were taken over by somebody else and Arnold got the part. That's one part that I think would have been wonderful for me at that time of my career.

The other role was "Jaws" [the steel toothed henchman in The James Bond movies The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker]. I was offered "Jaws" a long time before Richard Kiel ever came on the scene. Guy Hamilton was going to be the director of the movie, and he wanted me to play "Jaws" but unfortunately he got the sack before the film even started. He was replaced by Lewis Gilbert, who wanted to employ Richard Kiel. But they kept ringing me up and asking if I'd do Richard Kiel's stunt work and I said: "No, no. I don't want to do anybody else's stunt work. I'll do the part - I'll play the part and do all the stunt work by all means, but I don't want to be known as a stunt man."

Those two parts would have probably done me the world of good if they'd come off. But, unfortunately, they didn't but I went on to bigger things with Star Wars, and the Green Cross Code, of course.

DR: You mentioned Arnold Schwarzenegger. Does it not make you a little upset that he manages to retain his voice, even in his early movies (and you can't really understand what he's saying). You've got a slight West Country accent and yet you're voice was dubbed for Star Wars.

DP: [Laughs] Yes. Everybody takes the p*ss out of me. It's like Harrison Ford, he used to refer to me as "Darth Farmer".

I was in Chicago and I was watching TV at three O'clock in the morning, because I couldn't sleep, and Eddie Izzard came on the TV and was talking about a show that he'd just done in New York. And he said he'd mentioned that Darth Vader was played by a West Country man. And he started going "Oo-ar, my dear." And: "I'm gonna hit you with me lightsabre" - trying to do a West Country accent. And then he said to the audience: "Do you know that Darth Vader was played by a man called Keith Prowse?" And he said that this lady stood up in the audience and shouts: "Oh no it wasn't! It was Dave Prowse!" The lady turned out to be Carrie Fisher [laughs].

I've had this all through my life - I've got used to it. I know I have a West Country burr, but if anyone asks me what my accent is I say: "It's what I call an educated West Country accent." [Laughs].

DR: You mentioned on the CD that you're proud of your roots and that you could have had elocution lessons if you'd really wanted, but decided not to. Do you think that a lot of actors these days try to distance themselves from their roots?

DP: I've never been all that concerned about loosing my accent - it doesn't worry me all that much. If people want me sufficiently, but don't want the voice, they can always overdub. But I do appreciate being advised if they are going to overdub. Lucas never even consulted me on being overdubbed. I didn't know that they weren't using my voice until the film was out in America. I got this cable from [director] Russ Meyer saying: "Congratulations Dave. You're in the biggest movie of all time. By the way, did you know they've overdubbed your voice?" And that was the very first I knew.

We finished the film in September/October of 1976 and the film came out at the end of May 1977. They kept all this highly secret. And to this day, nobody has ever come up to me and said: "Look Dave, this is the situation." I've heard conflicting rumours, as to why they did it, but nobody has ever come up and told me officially what the problem was. And all the way through the movie George Lucas used to say: "Don't worry. We'll go into the sound studios and we'll record all your lines at the end of the movie." So I assumed that I was going to go into sound studios and do it.

In the year 2000 I retired from the gymnasiums and decided that there were three things I wanted to do. I wanted to learn to use the computer, I wanted to improve my photography and I decided that I wanted to learn to sing. I hadn't sung since I was in the school choir when I was 13. And so for the last five year's I've been having singing lessons, which I'm fairly enjoying.

I actually went to Las Vegas in 2003 and sang with Howard Keel, which was wonderful. I have an operatic tenor who coaches me, and I have another singing coach. One coaches me, more or less, on voice exercises and the other coaches me on doing specific pieces. But what I find is that the singing lessons are as much an elocution lesson as they are a singing lesson. I always remember when we first started. My singer said: "Let's sing Some Enchanted Evening." So I started singing: "Some Enchanted Evening, you may see a stranger." And he said: "No! It's not 'strang-er' it's 'strang-a'". [Laughs].

I've been doing stuff like Phantom of the Opera, Old Man River and things like that. Some of the things, like Old Man River, I can sing and because I'm a bass-baritone you really can't tell whether I'm a Negro singer or a West Country farmer. I'm thoroughly enjoying the singing and I'd love to do something with it. I'd love to make an album at some stage. I'd love to do a tribute album to Howard Keel - he was such a good friend.

DR: There was a report released recently that was concerned with the number of young men who are taking anabolic steroids to get a better physic. What advice would you give to the younger generation who are thinking of trying this?

DP: Don't. Whatever happens. Leave it well alone. It's one of the worst things that ever happened... in fact it ruined the whole of the bodybuilding scene.

The problem is that it doesn't stop at anabolic steroids. It just goes on from there. They start taking growth hormones and all sorts of mixers and potions that are designed to do all sorts of different things. They're even injecting muscles to make them bigger. It's snowballed out of all proportion.

I, personally, was always clean - I never took anything. But nowadays if you want to get anywhere in the athletic world, no matter what sport you're interested in whether it's football, rugby, bodybuilding, weightlifting or athletics... they're all rife with drug abuse. Every sport is now contaminated by drugs. And it's not only the drugs, it's all the other drugs they take to try and mask the effects of the first drug. They take one drug which is testable - you can get done for doing it - and then someone will say: "If you take an antihistamine it will mask the effect of the drug."

Just recently we had the sprinter Gatlin who said: "I can't understand how the testosterone got into my body." That's absolute rubbish. They know damn well what they are doing. The whole world of sport is tainted by drugs. There's now so much money in sport, and everybody wants to be the best, everybody wants to improve, and so it's like it is now - which is absolutely scandalous.

DR: It's a shame. It used to be about hours of training and dedication to your chosen sport...

DP: Yes, yes. When I was the British Heavyweight Weightlifting Champion I went to the World Weightlifting Championships and I was totally clean. I went to America and I lifted against the three big guys in the world at the time. There was the Russian Heavyweight called [Yury] Vlasov. There was the new Russian Heavyweight, who'd taken over from Vlasov, called [Leonid] Zhabotinsky. And there was another guy called Shemanski who was an American Light Heavy Weight who had bulked up from 12.5 to 20 stones via the steroids. I went there and I would go on stage and lift and they'd say: "Put another 100lbs on and we'll start." [Laughs]. It was totally demoralising. I could have come home and cried because after all the years of training I'd got so far but there was no way I was going to get as far as all these guys were without going on the drugs.

In fact when I turned professional, the Weightlifting Association got in touch with me and said: "Look Dave, do you realise you could be the strongest man in the world?"

And I said: "What do you mean? I'm miles behind. The Russian Heavyweight has just lifted about 500lbs above his head and I'm struggling with 370lbs."

And he said: "Oh no. They said you're not big enough."

I said: "Hang on. I'm 6ft 7" and 20 stone..."

He said: "You're not big enough. If you can get up to 30 stone - if you go on all the drugs - being 6ft 7" you could handle that sort of weight."

I said: "You want me to go on all the drugs? No thank you."

And that was almost being like forced upon me by the Weight Lifting Association.

DR: What advice would you give to the younger generation that want to get a bit fitter?

DP: You can do everything you want to do by sensible training and sensible eating. You can achieve anything by a combination of the two. It's as simple as that. And you don't have to take drugs. The only thing with the drugs is that you do things faster.

Normally what would happen with a body builder is that you'd take the right foods and you'd eat and you'd eat and develop the right muscles, but you wouldn't get the fantastic definition which you see in the body builders. In the old days you'd have to diet down to get the super definition that you want. Nowadays this is all done for you with the drugs. I would say avoid it like the plague, because all you're doing is storing up trouble for yourself later in life.

DR: There's so much hidden added salt and sugar in food these days that we really should be taking more care of our eating habits. Do you think the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

DP: Yes. I've just come back from America and over there there seems to be a compulsion to eat all the time. They can't go for a long period without eating something. They're eating walking along the street. You go to a bar for a drink and they're ordering hamburgers and everything else to go with it. It's crazy, this compulsion to eat and eat and eat.

I was in a steak restaurant and the waiter came up and said: "Would you like our house special? It's a 42 ounce steak."

I said: "Pardon?" [laughs]. I said: "I'm looking for something about 8 ounce - 10 ounce is as much as I can manage."

He said: "We've never served a steak that small. The 42 ounce is absolutely fantastic."

I said: "I couldn't eat 42 ounces of steak in a week, let alone in one meal."

He said: "Well, the smallest steak we have is 16 ounce."

I said: "If you slice it in two I'll have half of it, thank you very much."

They couldn't understand it. I was in a restaurant once and they had a 64 ounce steak on the menu. If you could eat it you got it for free.

Another time when I was in America they had the world's hot-dog eating championships. The joke was that they had these really skinny guys who were competing to see who could eat the most hot-dogs in something like 10 minutes. The winner was this skinny Japanese guy - I mean so skinny it was untrue - but he'd stuffed 57 [laughs] hot-dogs down in 10 minutes. He beat, by two, an American guy - who was also a small skinny guy. The commentator kept referring to them as "these super athletes" [laughs] because they could eat 57 hot-dogs. He said: "Of course they've been in training for this for ages."

They interviewed the winner, three days before and three days after the event, to see what he was doing. He said he did have a training program - he ate 37 hot-dogs one night [laughs] a few days before the event. I though: "Oh my god!"

DR: What do you think of the current state of the bodybuilding and weightlifting scene in the UK?

DP: I've lost all interest in it, to be honest, because we're now talking about all these drug addicts. It's all drug fuelled and I can't relate to it any longer.

I'll give you another example. All this fake tan stuff that they use. It's almost compulsory that you have to get one and you have to look some strange colour of orange. They've got this paint [laughs] that they put on, and they had the Mr Universe contest at Southport last year and at the end of the event the Southport corporation gave the organisers a bill for £1000 to clean the curtains, would you believe, which these guys had been wiping themselves down with after they'd been painting themselves with this orange paint [laughs].

That to me it's not sport. I'm afraid I got very jaded about it. There's no longer the physiques like [Steve] Reeves, [John] Grimek and Reg Park and all these people that I grew up with.

DR: It must be very frustrating, from your point of view, to see people achieving something virtually overnight, which you spent years working at.

DP: It's like when you go out at night and a lot of pubs and clubs have these bouncers on the doors. They're all shaven headed, steroid taking freaks. They really are. They're all on the steroids, they're all bodybuilders, they all shave their heads and stand on these doors looking impressive. But they're drug fuelled - they're taking anabolics, which makes them aggressive - which makes them good bouncers.

DR: If you could rule the galaxy, what would you change about the world we live in?

DP: The first think I'd do is reintroduce capital punishment. Unfortunately we have no ultimate deterrent any longer and the crime situation, worldwide, has gone berserk.

I think you've got to have an ultimate deterrent and the death penalty is the best thing for that. You've got to hang them or shoot them or do something. Rather than put them in prison and let the tax payer look after for the next 50-60 years, I think they should just be put down - like you'd take an animal to the vets.

The same thing ought to be done to really violent criminals who are uncontrollable who commit these heinous crimes.

Ian Brady, for instance, whose stuck in Broadmoor, or wherever he is, and we've got to look after him for the rest of his life. It's costing the tax payer about £50,000 a year to keep him there. Then they turn around and say: "The prisons are absolutely chock-a-block. We're going to have to build more prisons." They don't want to build more prisons, they want to get rid of loads of the people who are already in them - the ones who can't be rehabilitated, as it were.

DR: Can you tell us about your current movie, Perfect Woman?

DP: Yes. I've completed work on that. What's happened now is that there's been a big injection of capital into the movie by people who've seen what we've shot. We actually thought we'd shot the movie - we did a nine day shoot and completed filming. It's a teen horror all about a reality TV program where all these girls are competing for a night out with this very famous model, a guy called Marcus Schenkenberg, who was the face of Calvin Klein in America for years.

We filmed in Thornburry Castle and we had over 100 girls in the movie. It was a wonderful shoot. There's this mad scientist who's trying to create the perfect woman - and he's chopping up all these girls and taking all their best bits and putting them into one piece. We used Caprice as our perfect woman at the end - and she looked absolutely gorgeous. I play the pervy gardener who had the job of disposing of all the bodies - I eat the bits that I like and manure the garden with the rest [laughs].

What's happened now is... They don't know what to do with it, because it needed more work doing on it. But what's happened now is that a diamond seller has offered to put something like £3 million into the project, providing we will reshoot some of the scenes using their diamonds on the girls.

It's snowballing like mad at the present moment. There was some talk, initially, about it going straight to DVD, but now there's so much interest that they want to get a cinema release for it.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Stuart Black and Dexter O'Neill at Fantom Films Limited

Straight From the Force's Mouth is available to buy from 16 August 2006, and is released by Fantom Films Limited.

Click here to buy this audio book for £13.99

Or order a signed copy by buying this release from Dave Prowse's official website:

This interview was conducted on 14 September 2006

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