Hayden Christensen recalls how he developed the character of Anakin
For 20 years, Darth Vader’s origins were the stuff of mystery to Star Wars fans, before Anakin Skywalker’s story was told across the prequel trilogy. Given the pressure George Lucas and his team were under to get it right, then, it’s no surprise that the films ended up being hugely controversial at the time, especially Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of the future Sith Lord.
When you realize just how difficult a task Christensen was set in bringing the young Darth Vader to life, however, even the most ardent prequel-hater might look at his performance in a different light. This Monday marks the 20th anniversary of Attack of the Clones, so the Canadian actor reflected on first landing the role of Anakin with StarWars.com. Christensen opened up about how he had to spin countless plates when fleshing out his character. He recalled:
“For me, trying to develop the character of Anakin, there was a lot that I could draw from. There was a lot of source material. I was playing a part that was already played before me, as well as after me. This was a character that had a family, children that had grown up. You had all of these elements, and where he was in his life and what that life was, and how all that would have affected him. There were a lot of elements that needed to cohere.”
Christensen went on to stress that he really wanted to make sure that his Anakin felt like he had once been Jake Lloyd’s Ani and also was believably the father of Mark Hamill’s Luke and Carrie Fisher’s Leia. The star explained:
“And for me, one of the aspects of Star Wars that I found really compelling was the generational aspect of it. I really wanted that to feel authentic and have as much continuity as possible. I was very cognizant of the performance that Jake Lloyd gave [in Episode I], and wanting it to feel like it really was just an older version of that kid, to some of the nuances and mannerisms of Darth Vader, wanting that transition to have some context as well, and to his children, Luke and Leia, and for that lineage to feel convincing. So I had a lot that I was drawing from, and then of course, everything he’s going through in the story.”
It’s clear that no one can accuse Christensen of not taking the role seriously or failing to give it his all. Here’s hoping he knows how much those who grew up with the prequels love his portrayal and consider him as much an icon of the saga as those who came before him in the original trilogy.
And maybe anyone still in need of some convincing will belatedly hop aboard the Hayden train soon, as Christensen is about to get a surprise second wind as Vader. Later this month, he returns opposite Ewan McGregor in Disney Plus series Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is believed to precede several more appearances on future shows. e.g. Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka, due later this year.