Hayden Christensen Speaks Out On His ‘Star Wars’ Casting And The Negative Reactions To The Film

In a wide-ranging interview with Empire, Hayden Christensen has revealed his doubts that he’d win the role of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He also talked of its backlash.

Christensen, now 42, was just 19-years-old when he debuted as the future Darth Vader in 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. His audition had come a year earlier.

“I was 18, and I got a call from my agent saying that they were casting for Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars and I thought, ‘Wow, how cool.’ But it just seemed too big,” Christensen said.

“And I remember asking my agent, ‘Is there maybe another role that they’re also casting right now that you can put me up for? Because Anakin sort of seems unattainable.’ And there was not. So I threw my name in the hat like everyone else,” he said.

It must have been a huge hat, as reportedly 1,500 actors were seen for the role, including Leonardo DeCaprio.

“I had heard that they’d met with Leonardo and a bunch of other actors. That just confirmed my thought that the role would go to another actor,” he said. “Through the entire auditioning process I had told myself, from day one, that I wasn’t going to get the part. It just wasn’t a possibility. And I think that probably helped me a lot, because it just freed me up in a lot of ways. And so it really came as a surprise to me when I got the part,” he said.

Before Episode II, Christensen had appeared in just a handful of films and guest-starring TV show roles.

“The scope of the opportunity — the enormity of it all — was exciting to me. It was obviously a little daunting too, but there’s a saying: ‘Pressure is privilege.’ I just felt very lucky to have it. I was really thrilled that I was gonna get to express George’s mapping out of how someone goes from good to bad,” he said.

Christensen still had to face the court of public opinion. Not all of it was kind.

“Because Star Wars has had the cultural impact that it has, these characters almost become public domain, where people feel a sense of ownership over them. The character was criticized, my performance was criticized, and that part sucked,” he admitted. 

“But I also felt like I had some context that perhaps helped a little bit. When Episode I came out, there was a lot of excitement that they were making a new Star Wars, and it was going to be the backstory of Darth Vader,” he said. 

“But I had friends that were upset that the character was starting off as this young kid. And I watched the film, and I loved it. It was everything I wanted and more. And I didn’t understand the disconnect between the movie that I saw, and the negativity in some of the reviews,” he said.

“In a way, that sort of criticism, I think, comes from a certain failure of their own suspension of disbelief. If you’re gonna go sit in a theatre, and the opening scroll starts with, ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,’ that’s setting the stage that anything is possible,” he said. 

“These people don’t need to sound and behave the way that we might expect. And if you’re going to sit down and think that you’re getting something that is of our current zeitgeist, then you’re setting yourself up for something else,” he added.


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