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Best Costume Ever


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Darth Vader

Darth Vader is alive and well in the East Bay. But the man behind the mask isn’t Luke Skywalker’s dad; he’s Hercules resident C. Andrew Nelson, an actor and visual effects artist who moonlights for Lucasfilm Ltd. as the famous sci-fi villain for charity events, movie premieres, and various Star Wars–related ventures.

Nelson was working at LucasArts Entertainment in 1994 when he was first asked to suit up as Darth Vader for a charity event.

“I was at the right place at the right time, at the right height,” says six-foot-five-inch Nelson. “I got a call from someone in public relations asking how tall I was—and I thought she needed me to get something off a shelf. Then she asked if I had any acting experience and if I would breathe for her.”

Now a freelance film artist who has provided high-tech digital animation effects for such films as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Nelson has spent more time in the costume than any other actor—including David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. In addition to many charity and publicity appearances, Nelson’s Vader has appeared in several Star Wars video games, and he was featured in the M&Ms commercials that promoted the 2005 release of Revenge of the Sith. But the highlight for Nelson was filming new scenes for George Lucas’s special-edition versions of the original trilogy.

“As a lifelong Star Wars fanboy, it is an amazing feeling to be part of the film,” says Nelson.

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