Darth Vader (born Anakin Skywalker) is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. He appears in the original trilogy, as well as the prequel trilogy.
The character was created by George Lucas and has been portrayed by numerous actors. His appearances span all six Star Wars films, and he is an important character in the expanded universe of television series, video games, novels, literature and comic books. Originally a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force, he falls to the dark side of the Force and serves the evil Galactic Empire at the right hand of his Sith master, Darth Sidious. He is also the father of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa.
The American Film Institute listed him as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, behind Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates.
In the first draft of The Star Wars, tall, grim general "Darth Vader" came closer in line with his final depiction in the second revision, and the protagonist "Anikin Starkiller" had a role similar to Luke Skywalker's as the 16-year-old son of a respected warrior. Vader's mask was originally designed by Ralph McQuarrie as part of Vader's spacesuit and not intended to be part of the regular costume. Brian Muir sculpted Vader's costume based on McQuarrie's design.
After the success of Star Wars, Lucas hired science fiction author Leigh Brackett to write Star Wars II with him. They held story conferences and, by late November 1977, Lucas had produced a handwritten treatment. The treatment is very similar to the final film, except that Vader does not reveal he is Luke's father. In the first draft that Brackett would write from this, Luke's father appears as a ghost to instruct Luke. Lucas was disappointed with the script, but Brackett died of cancer before he could discuss it with her. With no writer available, Lucas had to write the next draft himself. In this draft, he made use of a new plot twist: Vader claiming to be Luke's father. According to Lucas, he found this draft enjoyable to write, as opposed to the year-long struggles writing the first film.
The new plot element of Luke's parentage had drastic effects on the series. Michael Kaminski argues in his book that it is unlikely that the plot point had ever seriously been considered or even conceived of before 1978, and that the first film was clearly operating under an alternate storyline where Vader was a separate character from Luke's father; there is not a single reference to this plot point before 1978 as Obi-Wan Kenobi referred to him as "Darth" as if it is his true name rather than the Sith title. After writing the second and third drafts in which the point was introduced, Lucas reviewed the new backstory he had created: Anakin had been Obi-Wan's brilliant student and had a child named Luke, but was swayed to the dark side by Palpatine. Anakin battled Kenobi on the site of a volcano and was badly wounded, but was then reborn as Vader. Meanwhile, Kenobi hid Luke on Tatooine while the Galactic Republic became the tyrannical Galactic Empire and Vader systematically hunted down and killed the Jedi. This change in character would provide a springboard to the "Tragedy of Darth Vader" storyline that underlies the prequels.
After deciding to create the prequels, Lucas indicated the series would be a tragic one depicting Anakin's fall to the dark side. He also saw that the prequels could form the beginning of one long story that started with Anakin's childhood and ended with his death. This was the final step towards turning the film series into a "Saga".
For the first prequel, Lucas made Anakin nine years old to make the character's separation from his mother more poignant. Movie trailers focused on Anakin and a one-sheet poster showing him casting Vader's shadow informed otherwise unknowing audiences of the character's eventual fate. The movie ultimately achieved a primary goal of introducing audiences to Anakin.
Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, offers evidence that issues in Anakin's fall to the dark side prompted Lucas to make massive story changes, first revising the opening sequence of the third prequel to have Palpatine kidnapped and his apprentice murdered by Anakin as the first act in the latter's turn towards the dark side. After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more massive changes in Anakin's character, re-writing his entire turn to the dark side; his fall from grace would now be motivated by a desire to save Padmé Amidala rather than the previous version in which that reason was one of several, including that he genuinely believed that the Jedi were plotting to take over the Republic. This fundamental re-write was accomplished both through editing the principal footage, and new and revised scenes filmed during pick-ups in 2004.
Darth Vader was portrayed by bodybuilder David Prowse, stunt performer Bob Anderson performed the character's intense lightsaber fight scenes, and James Earl Jones provided the voice but was initially uncredited in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back because he felt his contributions were too small to warrant recognition. The character has also been voiced by Scott Lawrence and Matt Sloan for several video games.Anakin Skywalker has been portrayed by Sebastian Shaw in Return of the Jedi, Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace, and Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and appears briefly reprising the role in the final scene of Return of the Jedi. The character has also been voiced by Mat Lucas for the 2003 micro-series and Matt Lanter in the CGI 2008 film and later animated TV series.
In Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker feels "smothered" by Obi-Wan Kenobi and is unable to control his life. By Revenge of the Sith, however, his "father-son" friction with his master has matured into a more equal, brotherly relationship. Once he becomes Darth Vader, each evil act he commits makes it harder for him to return to the light, but ultimately escapes the dark side and redeems himself before he dies by saving his son Luke Skywalker and killing Palpatine in Return of the Jedi.
Eric Bui, a psychiatrist at University of Toulouse Hospital, argued at the 2007 American Psychiatric Association convention that Anakin meets six of the nine diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder (BPD), one more than necessary for a diagnosis. He and a colleague, Rachel Rodgers, published their findings in a 2010 letter to the editor of the journal Psychiatry Research. Bui says he found Anakin Skywalker a useful example to explain BPD to medical students. In particular, Bui points to Anakin's abandonment issues and uncertainty over his identity. Anakin's mass murders of the Tusken Raiders in Attack of the Clones and the young Jedi in Revenge of the Sith count as two dissociative episodes, fulfilling another criterion. Bui hoped his paper would help raise awareness of the disorder, especially among teens.