Hayden Christensen on returning to Star Wars

Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

It is a return to a galaxy, far, far, away 20 years in the making.

Hayden Christensen is once again donning the role of the Jedi Knight-turned Sith Lord, Darth Vader in the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Canadian actor played the role in the last two Star Wars prequel films Attack of the Clone and Revenge of the Sith.  

The actor sat down with The Guardian for an interview in which he talked about his return to the iconic role in which he added a different and vibrant layer to the ruthless Sith Lord who struck fear in the hearts of the Galaxy’s inhabitants and those who served under him in the Galactic Empire.

“It was a no-brainer. In a heartbeat. When I got the call, I was instantly elated … I was just so excited to get to come back after all these years.”

While the role of Anakin/Vader had put him on the Hollywood map, it also exposed him to  flak from some of the fans due to “many of them” not being able to “stomach seeing Darth Vader portrayed as a petulant, whiny brat.”

However, Star Wars creator George Lucas praised Christensen’s performance and said that those fans did not “like the character.” On top of that, the actor saw a silver lining.

“I guess the impression that I got from George Lucas was that if they don’t like them, then they don’t ‘get’ it – and that was good enough for me,” said Christensen.

When asked by The Guardian  if he was “afraid of exposing himself to another onslaught of toxicity,” the actor responded to the contrary.

“Noooooo, never! Do you think that’s a possibility?” Christensen asked. “I mean, it’s all on the table, but you know, that doesn’t get factored into these types of decisions for me.”

In addition to some of the heat he received for his portrayal of Anakin, the publicity that came with Star Wars hit him like a ton of bricks. This was something he did not prepare for when he allegedly beat Leonardo DiCaprio for the Anakin Skywalker role.

“It was a lot to adjust to,” Christensen said. “Usually people have a more gradual ascent into that world and mine was very abrupt. But I was able to distance or detach from that experience because I knew it was about this thing that I was now a part of. I didn’t really think of it as being something that was mine.”

The actor also talked about feeling overwhelmed when seeing his face emblazoned on products. He also mentioned how “being a teen heart-throb” was overwhelming since he “always wanted to be regarded as a serious actor.”

“My focus has always been the work and everything else is kind of peripheral for me,” said Christensen.

However, he felt differently when it came to action figures. The article also noted that he has a collection of figures “in storage.”

“For a period I would avoid going to the convenience store just because it was a little overwhelming. But the action figures, that was cool, I got a kick out of that.”

Post Star Wars, Christensen starred in the 2003 film Shattered Glass, about Stephen Glass, a journalist who was caught fabricating his stories while working for the New Republic. He also starred in the 2008 film Jumper, which is about a young man who gains the ability to teleport to different areas and uses it to attain wealth while on the run from a secret society that hunts down people with his ability. However, he would turn away from acting and settle down in his farm that was not too far from his hometown of Toronto.

“I’ve always loved acting,” Christensen said. “I’ve always loved the film-making process, too. I’ve just had other interests and other things that I wanted to explore as well”

Time on the farm had the actor spend more time with his daughter with his ex-wife actress Rachel Bilson and study architecture. He would use that time to build “barns and renovate old farmhouses.”

“All kids are sort of into their Tonka Toys. I just took it to the next level and got like, you know, a full-size excavator, and a bulldozer,” said Christensen.

However, when he started attending Star Wars fan conventions, he started to see the impact he had when portraying Anakin.

“It just wasn’t something that interested me,” he says. “It wasn’t something that I ever thought that I wanted to do. It just wasn’t where I was at in my life. But now I love getting to connect with these fans who express how much these films mean to them, and specifically this character. And getting to see young kids dressed up as Anakin and make a connection with them. For me, it has a lot of value, and I hope it’s mutual.”

Also during the interview, Christensen also spoke about how his family became very close with Lucas’ family and how the creator became a mentor to him. The article mentioned the actor looking up to Lucas’ works “even outside of Star Wars” and his parents buying him The Creative Impulse, which was a book about Lucas’ works in the first 20 years and the director’s influences.

“I was just enamored by it all. I was just excited to get to go and meet George Lucas. I think that was probably working in my favor, at the time, because I wasn’t really taking it too seriously.”

At the end of the article, it was noted that Christensen once again donning the armor and boots of Darth Vader would be the chance to “reshape his legacy” and “embrace redemption.” Christensen noted that redemption “is a very powerful concept.”

“And one that really resonates with the Star Was storytelling as well.” said Christensen.

Obi-Wan Kenobi stars Ewan McGregor with appearances by Hayden Christensen and Kumail Nanjiani and is directed by Deborah Chow, who previously directed an episode of The Mandalorian. The series is set to premiere May 27, 2022 exclusively on Disney+.

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