Hayden Christensen discusses return to Anakin Skywalker

Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm's STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved
Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm's STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved /

The end of the SAF-AFTRA strike means actors are free to discuss their recent projects, and Dave Filoni and the cast of Ahsoka sat down with Vanity Fair to do just that. The lengthy article on features interviews with everyone, including Hayden Christensen, who finally gets the opportunity to discuss his much-talked-about return in Ahsoka Episode 5.

Christensen reveals some intriguing details of how he plays Anakin Skywalker this time around and why this Anakin is unlike the one we saw Hayden portray in the past. Although Obi-Wan Kenobi did give us a chance to see Hayden as Anakin again, it’s vastly different from the portrayal of the redeemed Jedi Knight in Ahsoka.

Speaking of his performance, Hayden says that he decided to play Anakin with a sense of uncertainty, similar to the uncertainty the audience feels regarding Anakin’s presence in the World Between Worlds:

"“Inevitably, the audience has to question what it is they’re watching. Is this the World Between Worlds? What is the World Between Worlds? Is this actually the spirit of Anakin Skywalker, or is this all in Ahsoka’s subconscious and we’re just going down the yellow brick road as she’s drowning and fighting for her life? I think that the episode provides a few really good clues, but it doesn’t spell it out for you.”"

While Hayden Christensen and Dave Filoni prefer to leave it up to the audience to decide whether Anakin is there or not, Christensen confirms that he’s playing a version of the character he didn’t get to before. This is Anakin Skywalker post-redemption, and close to the person he was always meant to be. He’s a Master Jedi and expertly wields both sides of the Force, perhaps something he was supposed to have mastered in his lifetime.

"“I was getting to play a version of this character that I hadn’t before, and that was the all-knowing, all-powerful Jedi master who could wield both sides of the Force—light and dark—at will, and maybe has the power to save Ahsoka’s life, which also is very interesting because that’s the power that he was trying to achieve when he pledged himself to the dark side.”"

Fans have pointed out that there’s a sad irony in what Anakin accomplishes in Episode 5. He’s able to send Ahsoka back and convince her to live again after nearly dying. It’s possible to interpret this as Anakin being granted the ability he sought while he was alive. He wanted to save the people he loved from dying but it’s not an ability Darth Sidious was able to teach him.

While Filoni explains that he didn’t wish to add anything to Anakin’s redemption, as it was handled perfectly by George Lucas, the Ahsoka series shows us what many of us believed in already, which is that Anakin has been a constant presence by Ahsoka’s side. According to Filoni, “He’s always been there with her, but she just couldn’t see it. She couldn’t feel it. She didn’t know.”

Thanks to their meeting in the World Between Worlds, Anakin will be by her side from this point forward. The only difference is, that now Ahsoka will be able to feel his presence too. In this sense, the redeemed Anakin Skywalker serves the same role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original trilogy and Qui-Gon Jinn during Obi-Wan’s time on Tatooine.

Ahsoka allowed Hayden Christensen a great opportunity to portray Anakin at his best, without being shackled by his demons, and in return, fans got to see Hayden as every version of Anakin before and after his redemption.

Ahsoka is streaming on Disney+.