Ahsoka: Hayden Christensen shows he’s a brilliant actor

Ahsoka episode 4. Image courtesy StarWars.com
Ahsoka episode 4. Image courtesy StarWars.com /

Ahsoka Episode 5, “Shadow Warrior,” featured the return of the Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, played by Hayden Christensen once again. Christensen’s role as Anakin in this episode was quite crucial and properly prepared Ahsoka for her battles ahead. However, what exact version of Anakin Skywalker do we see? While we never got a full Vader return in Episode 5, there is certainly more than just one portrayal of this intricate Jedi character.

When Christensen first signed on for Attack of the Clones (2002), there wasn’t exactly a guide on how to be Anakin Skywalker. Though many were familiar with the name and identity, the only frame of reference was Jake Loyd’s portrayal of the character in The Phantom Menace (1999). However, because the actor and character were both around 10 years old, it wasn’t beneficial as Christensen played Anakin 10 years older than Jake Lloyd’s version. Many fans weren’t happy with Christensen’s performance after the release of both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (2005). He was called an emotionless actor who couldn’t get the tone right for any scene. This continued for several years until the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a series that took a different approach with the character.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode “Pursuit of Peace.” Image courtesy StarWars.com
Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode “Pursuit of Peace.” Image courtesy StarWars.com /

The Clone Wars featured many Jedi that were previously seen in the prequel trilogy, including Skywalker. This animated version of the character voiced by Matt Lanter painted Anakin in a much different light, especially with his new apprentice at his side, Ahsoka Tano. Rather than Christensen’s darker and grittier approach in Revenge of the Sith, this new version of Anakin was more of an upbeat character with quite a dry sense of humor. The series ended up going a lengthy seven seasons and ending just after the events of Order 66. Because of the series’ overall longevity, this set a new precedent for the character.

Christensen stated prior to the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi that he watched all the Star Wars movies over again and also watched all of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels series as well. While The Clone Wars knowledge wasn’t particularly necessary in the Kenobi series, it was clear after Ahsoka Episode 5 that Christensen had taken what he had observed from his character in The Clone Wars and applied much of it to his portrayal of Anakin in the Ahsoka series. By recreating the animated version’s mannerisms and speech patterns, this character felt much more like the older Clone Wars version than Hayden’s older portrayal from the Prequels.

Even closer to the middle of the episode, we see a brief scene where Anakin goes dark. His eyes light up a dark yellow, and his lightsaber glows red. This version of Anakin wasn’t anything like The Clone Wars version we saw five minutes prior. Yet, Hayden was able to shift personalities through different scenes and ultimately created one giant character with many different iterations. Truthfully, merging two or more iterations of one character can’t be an easy job. Most other actors probably would have dropped the ball. However, Christensen was smothered with praise when he returned to the fandom last year and has just made himself an even bigger name than before.