Spencer Wilding, creature and character actor, visited the Cayman Islands in March. An impressive man, clocking in at around 6-foot 7-inches, he revealed himself to be a charming personality, grateful for all the opportunities he’s had throughout his career.
After playing parts in world-famous blockbusters such as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Harry Potter” and “Wrath of the Titans,” as well as the groundbreaking “Game of Thrones” series, he was handed the ultimate mantle – that of legendary character Darth Vader in “Rogue One,” released in December 2016. We asked him about the experience and other highlights of his career thus far.
What’s Hot: Did you ever think you would be Darth Vader? Was the part ever an aspiration of yours?
Spencer Wilding: Well, I was quite a spiritual kid, so when I was a young boy, I always knew I was going to be in the films. I just knew the big one was coming. And all my roles were quite big … I played the Monster in “Victor Frankenstein,” the Wolfman in “Wolfman,” the Werewolf in “Harry Potter” … big iconic characters. But I always had the feeling that something big was coming, so to be part of the “Star Wars” family and to play Darth … it was awesome. I’m living the dream.
WH: How big a fan of the films were you before this?
SW: Oh, massive. I was born in 1972 and “Star Wars” came out in ’77 … I loved the old “Star Wars,” but all the films are great.
WH: I ask because of course, with things like Comic Con, fans must ask really in-depth questions.
SW: They do. I’m always truthful with the fans, because without the fans, we wouldn’t be here as actors. I’ve been doing Comic Cons for seven or eight years and I love to meet them – love to do the Q & As; always interested in the questions they ask me.
WH: Do you find you’re able to answer most of them?
SW: If I’m allowed to, yeah. [Laughs] The rumor of me playing Darth Vader came out 12 months prior, and [all the newspapers] were front door-stepping me … asking my children, the teachers. Everyone was very excited and they wanted the rumor to be true, and I wanted to say “YEAH! YEAH!” but once you sign on that dotted line, you can’t talk about it.
WH: How handy are you with a lightsaber?
SW: Oh, I can swing one! [Laughs]
WH: Do your children get more respect (maybe are they a little feared) by their peers, now it’s known that their Dad is Lord Vader?
SW: [Laughs] They’re doing their own thing … they are very popular kids without their Dad being in the films. But now Darth Vader’s their Dad, yeah, they’re going around saying “He IS my father.” [Laughs]
WH: How uncomfortable is the suit?
SW: You know what? It’s a very comfortable suit. I have a scale from one to 10 for my suits and makeups, and I’ve been to 10 and past that. I’d call this a four – it’s nice, quite comfortable. After about 10 hours, because it’s in the shape of Dave Prowse [actor who originally wore the Darth Vader costume], it does sort of put you in his shape. But honestly, it felt like putting the glass slipper on. It felt snug … perfect.
WH: How long does it take you to get the whole thing on?
SW: In completion, probably about 40 minutes. It’s quick. I’ve done 5- and 6-hour makeups, applied by the best in the business. I once played a lion for ING bank in Istanbul, and had two stone (28 pounds) on my head for 12 hours a day. It was what you’d call a “neck-breaker,” because if you fall over, you break your neck. There was no chest plate to take the weight.
WH: David Prowse actually came to our high school here years ago, so now I’ve met two Darth Vaders! [Laughs]
SW: There are actually parallels between me and David Prowse. We both played Frankenstein’s Monster and the Minotaur. I didn’t know that until some Doctor Who fans brought it up. When he played the Minotaur, it was 1972 and that’s when I was born … and then Frankenstein’s Monster as well. Things just go in a circle.
WH: Favorite filming location?
SW: For scenery, it was probably Iceland. I filmed over there with Gerard Butler, about two hours from Reykjavik. I was playing Grendel’s father in “Beowulf.”
WH: Any director you would like to work with?
SW: I’ve worked with some awesome directors, some of the young boys … like James Gunn on “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the Wachowskis on “Jupiter Ascending” … they let me get on with it, but it’s also lovely to take direction from them.
WH: What is your favorite acting experience thus far?
SW: You know, I’m the patron of anti-bullying back home in Wales, so to see the kids’ smiles and buzz when they look at me, you can’t beat that. I love playing all these characters – every one of them is special to me.
WH: Any particular character you want to play that you haven’t yet?
SW: I haven’t played a zombie yet. I got very close to playing the Hulk, that would have been great because I can actually climb skyscrapers and jump off them and catch planes for real, [laughs].
Whatever comes in my path next is to be, and I just love it.