Hayden on George Lucas, Playing Anakin, and the Unfair Criticisms Jake Lloyd Recieved From Fans
Hayden Christensen, how intimidated were you by George Lucas?
Christensen: At first, I was, because he has such a huge following. The Star Wars films are massive. They were huge in my childhood and in my brother’s childhood. So it was a little daunting at first to create that actor-director relationship. But George makes it very easy once you get to know him. He’s a very kind man, and he was very aware that our relationship was going to be important to my portrayal of Anakin. So he did everything he needed to in order to make me feel comfortable.
Several actors—Jake Lloyd, Sebastian Shaw and James Earl Jones among them—have previously contributed to the portrayal of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. How much of your predecessors’ work did you take into account?
Christensen: That sense of linear development of character was very important. So I tried to take certain sensibilities from Jake Lloyd’s performance, the naiveté and the immaturity that is just a part of being Anakin. And then there’s only so much you can draw from a man beneath a mask, but I did try to instill the monotone aspect of the delivery of [Jones’] lines in my character as well. That was about all I could take.
A lot of people gave thumbs down to Lloyd’s performance in The Phantom Menace. How did you go about picking up the better aspects to incorporate into your performance?
Christensen: I thought that elements of Jake’s performance were very key to what Anakin’s descent was going to entail. That immaturity was hopefully a part of my performance, in terms of how he reacts to certain stimuli in the film and his mindset of feeling that guidance isn’t so much necessary at this point in his life. Jake is a kid. He was eight years old at the time. To actually critique his performance is cruel. You wouldn’t do it if he were performing in a school play. Just because he’s doing it on a different platform, I think it’s kind of wrong [to criticize him]. But what are you going to do?