David Prowse – the man in the original Darth Vader suit – has only seen Star Wars twice, and I got to join him for the second occasion.
If that wasn’t enough of a claim to an interesting Saturday, let me tell you that this experience took place at Bristol Zoo after we had been to watch the penguins get fed together.
Isn’t my life fun?
It was all part of a Saturday spent with a small group of fans of the Hello Internet podcast. One of its creators – YouTuber extraordinaire Brady Haran – had won the chance to watch Star Wars with the original Vader actor at a Bristol Zoo charity auction, and had opened the opportunity up to a small group of listeners to join him. The fact this opportunity was taking place in my hometown meant it was too good to pass up, and so with a payment to the zoo’s penguin appeal I found myself among thirty other fans to meet Brady and Hello Internet co-creator CGP Grey at the zoo yesterday.
The day was a wonderful ‘peek behind the curtain’ experience – getting to chat to Brady and meet the notoriously veiled CGP Grey was a real treat. They were both delightful, but it was especially pleasing to talk and joke with Grey – who famously shies away from all but essential interaction with strangers – and find him to be fun, friendly and taking a real interest in us guests.
In between chit-chat about penguins and selfies, I loved having the opportunity to ask Grey and Brady about the minutiae of their work as podcasters and YouTubers, and so as Prowse came before us to take questions at the end of Star Wars, I thought I’d continue the theme with him. He told us that the Vader suit was wonderfully made but rather warm during the hot summer of 1976 – although he declined to comment specifically on the cape despite my Incredibles-inspired question. He said he purposely developed the Darth Vader walk so that others would almost have to run to keep up with him, and that he most enjoyed throwing Emperor Palpatine into the Death Star’s reactor shaft in Return of the Jedi – reminding us all of his strength as British heavyweight weightlifting champion. He said that he worked for a straight salary on the first Star Wars film (which he claimed he had not seen since it premiered) but receives residual payments for the others – and described his reaction when he received his first residual check for Empire. He then led us all in song with some made-up lyrics to the Star Wars theme. Who would have thought a screening of Star Wars would end in a singalong?
Hearing about the behind-the-scenes going on of YouTube videos, talkative podcasts and blockbuster movies is my idea of a fascinating day. Add in a few aquatic birds and some popcorn and you’ve truly iced that cake. Huge thanks to Brady, Grey, David Prowse and all at the zoo for organising the day. I loved every minute.