I Am Your Father
If you will indulge me here, I am going to list all of the accomplishments of my career:
- I’ve been with the same company for 15 years.
That is all.
I am a responsible and agreeable enough employee to avoid being fired evidently. Because, I assure you, I never go above and beyond in my daily work duties. I assure you of that.
Do I try to impress my boss to earn a promotion? No! Do I stay late or work overtime unless explicitly forced by my boss? Goodness No! Do I take work home with me, either in a briefcase or in my head? Heck No! If I ever find myself thinking of work when I’m not getting paid to, I drink until those shameful thoughts are out of my head.
Work is great, but if you try to turn your job into the primary source of meaning and happiness in your life, you are making a monumental mistake. No matter how much success you achieve, work will ultimately leave you disappointed.
David Prowse proves it.
Though you’ve probably don’t know who David Prowse is, you’ve certainly seen him. He’s Darth Vader. He’s the super tall Englishman who wore the iconic Darth Vader costume in the first three Star Wars movies. “I Am Your Father” tells his happy and heartbreaking story.
Prowse – who was 80 years old when this documentary was made – recounts the glory years of his remarkable career.
He won the British Bodybuilding Championship in 1962. He parlayed his gigantic 6’7’’ frame into a steady acting career. He played Frankenstein in low-budget British horror movies. He appeared in “A Clockwork Orange.”
Prowse is best known to older Englishmen as the Green Cross Code Man: a superhero who taught British kids to cross the street safely in the 1970s. He was honored by the Queen for his lifesaving work.
But Prowse remembers his time as Darth Vader most fondly. He recalls the amazing experience of watching the first “Star Wars” in a packed theater and discovering – to his total surprise – that he was part of a huge mega-hit.
Prowse recalls the excitement of watching “The Empire Strikes Back” in the theater and learning that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. The Star Wars producers were so obsessed with secrecy that they didn’t even tell the actors.
That paranoid secrecy would end up biting David Prowse in the back a few years later. During the filming of “Return of the Jedi,” the news of Darth Vader’s death leaked to the press.
The producers blamed Prowse. As a response, they cast another actor as the face of Darth Vader when the dying villain finally takes off the mask. Even worse, they didn’t inform Prowse at all. They filmed Darth Vader’s penultimate dramatic scene behind his back.
By all accounts, David Prowse should be proud of his amazing acting career. If success brings one joy, he should be the happiest guy in England. But he is tormented by the bitterness of how he was treated by George Lucas and by the unforgettable death scene that he should have been a part of.
Career success has also affected his family life. Prowse’s son is still wounded by the embarrassment of having a famous father. And Prowse’s wife – who refused to be interviewed – never understood the movies and hates that Prowse has to go off to Star Wars conventions every weekend.
The lesson of “I Am Your Father” is clear. It’s good to have a job. It’s good to retire with money in the bank and some neat stories. But if you expect your career to bring you happiness, the Force will not be with you.