Star Wars: Where Are They Now? - Jake Lloyd
Although Jake Lloyd performed in his fair share of films and TV shows from the mid to late 1990s, even sharing screen time with Ewan McGregor in episodes of ER, it wasn’t until George Lucas chose him to portray Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace that he caught his big break. However, his performance was heavily slated, with critics nominating him for two Razzie Awards – the Worst Screen Couple (shared with Natalie Portman) and the Worst Supporting Actor – and fans wishing George chose any of the other 3000 auditionees for the role instead. The story of Jake Lloyd is a tragic tale: for what should have been the role to launch his promising career to the next level turned out to be the worst possible decision of his life…
This Star Wars: Where Are They Now #1: Jake Lloyd.
Although Jake Lloyd was nominated for a string of awards, even winning the Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actor Age Ten or Under, the largely negative reaction to his performance as Anakin Skywalker really got to him, as expressed with these quotes:
“I had some issues. When I first had to deal with being in 'Star Wars,' you know, who wouldn't?”
“None of us really understood exactly how much Star Wars would affect us for the rest of our lives.”
“You can't go fighting everyone that's harsh towards you.”
Ever since The Phantom Menace, aside from voice over roles in several Star Wars games, he never reprised his TV career and only appeared in one movie, leading to his retirement [from acting] in 2001, which adds light to his most tragic quote of all:
“I've learned to hate it when the cameras are pointed at me.”
However, after graduating High School, Jake looked to pursue his film career once more, attending Chicago’s Columbia College in 2008. But, just as he looked to have shaken the negativity of The Phantom Menace, even announcing in 2012 he was going to direct a documentary highlighting the escape of Tibetan refugees from Chinese prosecution, his life took another dip in 2015 when he was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, reckless driving, driving without a license and failure to stop in South Carolina after an over 100 mph speed chase. Following his arrest, Lloyd’s mother claimed he suffered from schizophrenia and had failed to take his medication. She added that he even attacked her a year prior as a result of his struggle with the condition. After spending ten months in prison, Jake was admitted into a psychiatric unit at the age of just 27.
It’s easy for Star Wars fans to criticise Lloyd’s performance in Star Wars: Episode I, but we need to understand how down he felt as a result of the constant abuse and bullying he received. Imagine as a ten years old facing the torment he did:
"Other children were really mean to me. They would make the sound of the lightsaber every time they saw me. It was totally mad."
His Star Wars fame turned his life into a “living hell”, and he even destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia in a fit of rage. And now he suffers from schizophrenia, which is no laughing matter. It’s important that Star Wars fans unite behind Jake so that he can hopefully turn his life around.
Did the story of Jake Lloyd after The Phantom Menace surprise you? Let me know in the comments below, and tell what Star Wars actor you want me to cover next.