Star Wars: Where Are They Now? Hayden Christensen
Although Hayden Christensen had been acting since 1993, it wasn’t until he landed the role of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith that he rose to fame. He may have been regarded as an “unknown”, especially compared to some of the other 1500 candidates who auditioned for the role, but George Lucas admired the “dark side” within Hayden, as well as the good chemistry he had with co-star Natalie Portman. In addition, Lucas made a career of selecting “unknown” actors for his films, only to make them superstars. The gamble never paid off for the most part, however, as Christensen’s performance in the two movies was largely slated, winning him a Razzie Award for each. Just like his Anakin predecessor, Jake Lloyd, Hayden only starred in less prominent roles afterwards and later even “quit” acting all together. The decision wasn’t anything to do with the backlash for his performances in Star Wars though, rather just the opposite…
Ever since Christensen’s last appearance as Anakin Skywalker in 2005, he hasn’t appeared in very many films. You may think that’s because of the backlash his performance as the troubled Jedi received, but Hayden just didn’t enjoy his share of the spotlight:
“I felt like I had this great thing in Star Wars that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me. I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave.”
As a result, opting for a quiet life in 2007, Christensen bought a farm in Uxbridge, Ontario in Canada, and educated himself about livestock, crops and agricultural machinery. He later became engaged with Jumper co-star Rachel Bilson, and in 2014 they had a child together. Afterwards, it seemed like Hayden was quite content living a peaceful life as a new father.
Christensen never ruled out a return to the big screen, however:
“You can’t take years off and not have it affect your career. But I don’t know — in a weird, sort of destructive way, there was something appealing about that to me. There was something in the back of my head that was like, ‘If this time away is gonna be damaging to my career, then so be it. If I can come back afterward and claw my way back in, then maybe I’ll feel like I earned it.’”
And a comeback seemed likely after a string of performances from 2010 to 2015. However, his most recent film – 90 Minutes in Heaven – failed to match the success of the Star Wars prequels and received unanimous negative reviews. The year may have ended differently for the actor if he appeared in the seventh Star Wars installment: The Force Awakens. At some stage in the movie’s development process, Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker was to appear as a Force ghost, displaying both sides of the Force that defined the character. But given Hayden’s negative affiliation with Skywalker, maybe it was for the best he never reprised the role…
So what do you think about the story of Hayden Christensen after Revenge of the Sith? Let me know in the comments below, and make sure to tell me what Star Wars actor to cover next.