Ta long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… there was a Canadian boy who dreamed of being an actor. The dream would have turned into reality, like in fairy tales, but to succeed he would have been forced to give in to the flattery… of the dark side.
At twenty-one, in 2002, Hayden Christensen (today he is 41), he sold his soul (professionally, of course) to George Lucas: has been chosen to interpret Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and his face invaded the world. Except then meet again submerged in a rain of criticism such as to prostrate anyone.
Hayden Christensen in Obi-Wan Kenobi
Today – twenty years later – he has decided to recover in game wearing also in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022) the dress that guaranteed him fame, money, but (at the time) not so much glory. That of Darth Vader. To start over.
“When I read the script,” the actor recently told al Corriere della Sera“I stayed impressed. I certainly was excited for this opportunity. Over the years I had continued to deepen this role, documenting myself, reading».
In this series, however, «they come explore aspects that have never been explored before until now. What I love most about him (Dart Vader, ed)”, goes on, “it’s the changes it brings about. Is always extreme in its manifestations and that excites me. I remember he was mine first thought already when I did the casting to get this part».
Sure, he admits, “I was excited because it was the saga of Star Wars, but as an actor I was very interested in the idea of giving life to a character who starts off as good and then you have to accompany him on the opposite side. That of the bad».
Hayden Christensen and the saga of Star Wars
But let’s take a step back. To tell the story of his career we start from Star Wars and you get to… Star Wars. The problem lies in the middle.
Episode II – Attack of the Clones is released in theaters on May 16, 2002. The world is different from today: there is no Twitter, there is no Instagram, there is no Facebook and there is not even Youtube. Means that information is not dispersed in a thousand streamsas is the case today.
Below, the trailer forAttack of the clones
And an event was still an event. Planetary, in this case. If in Episode I Anakin – future Darth Vader – is still a child, in the second we see him as an adult.
We can finally put a face to evil and witness with our eyes its passage to the dark side. The wait, not only among fans of the saga, is huge in a world where Darth Vader he’s probably the only character who even knows who’s by Star Wars he never saw a single frame.
But things are not going well. No, not in the sense of income. It’s that there are too many things that purists don’t like, too much computer graphicstoo cloying and gooey the love story between Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) e Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). Maybe there was just too much waiting.
Below, Christensen and Portman in a scene shot on Lake Como, at Villa del Balbianello
The first trilogy, what a disappointment
At the time, for fans of the universe of Star Wars (or rather, adepts) the first trilogy was a colossal disappointmentonly partially redeemed by the finale of the third episode, the one in which Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin-Christensen, now close to wearing the black dress of Darth Vader, give life to a memorable duel in the eternal fire that devours the volcanic planet of Mustafar.
The repercussions for Ben Hayden’s career will be heavy. Have embraced the dark side would have kept him relegated to a shadow cone for many years. Maybe forever.
The career of Hayden Christensen
His career, in reality, had started as well as it could not have. At eighteen, in 1999, her first important film is The Garden of the Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola. Two years later she earned excellent reviews and a nomination for Golden Globes with The last dream. That, 2001, is an important year. It is the year in which his life changes forever. George Lucas chooses it between more than 1600 candidates to interpret Anakin Skywalker.
“I remember when I got the call telling me that I got the part» he said. “At the time I was still in bed in my Vancouver apartment.”
The actor recalls being “walked out after hanging up the phone, dazed and in disbelief» for the news and for having gone into the living room where his roommate was. “He knew I was waiting for this phone call, he saw my smile and he immediately understood that there was good news» he said.
His reaction was that «of ignite an imaginary lightsaber. He too was a big fan of Star Wars and had the soundtrack of Episode I. She put it on and we did a imaginary duel with lightsabers in our apartment, jumping on all the furniture and screaming like excited kids.’
Hayden had finished high school less than a year ago, «and suddenly I found myself on the set of this mega-production with George Lucas, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman. Really, I could never have dreamed of something more beautiful».
The panning of the film
As mentioned, however, the response from the public and critics was anything but exciting. “When the reaction from critics and the public came and it wasn’t positive,” he recalled Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), “it was tough. She was really very tough ».
For years “we ignored the reaction to those films, putting the blinders on a bit. Now I perceive that there isappreciation for i prequel, a warmth that comes from the generation we made them for. Now that they are grown up, for them the movies of Star Wars are our films of star wars».
A concept also shared by Christensen. For Hayden those stings were deep wounds which probably took a long time to heal, leaving some scars.
Now that he’s back as Darth Vader for the third time after twenty years, there’s some relief, in his words. «For a long time «I thought that i would never come back. It took years for the idea to work its way into the back of my head, before I thought there was more to explore. I’m so happy to be able to do it.” It is like needed to close a circle.
In 2005 it was the turn of Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Hayden-Anakin Complete the membership process dark side. He is a tormented man, in the grip of contradictory feelings, he moves between love and hate. His gaze – finally – changes and Christensen on stage show all the wickedness that the Dark Lord of the Sith must possess. His performance it doesn’t excite the audiencebut at least spare them the terrible cracks from the previous episode.
The love between Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson
From that moment on, having reached the bright heart of Hollywood, his wax wings begin to melt. Little lucky Factory Girlforgettable Decameron Pielittle success even in such a big budget project as Jumper – without borders. It doesn’t matter, after all, because on set he knows Rachel Bilson – the Summer of The OCdo you remember it?
The two will be engaged for a decade and in 2014 the daughter would be born Briar Rosethe name of the protagonist of Bilson’s favorite Disney cartoon, The Sleeping Beauty.
Hayden Christensen’s other films
From a working point of view, in 2010 he was part of the cast of a minor work which, paradoxically, offered him one of the best roles of his career, Vanishing On 7th Street. Not unanimous applause, of course, there are also some criticisms, but almost so underground the film circulates and find a following among fans of the genre – the combination is horror + fate of the world hanging by a thread.
A bit like his career. Transits from pizza-based comedies (Little Italy), then joins Harvey Keitel in The Last Man. In all honesty, there’s not much to get excited about.
Plan B (always needed)
The important thing, not only for the actors, is to have a plan B. Or other interests. To get his hands on the role of Anakin-Dart Vader, Hayden Christensen had beaten even the competition of Leonardo Dicaprio; in the golden years she did the template for Louis Vuitton and Lacoste
He had affairs with – they say, it’s just gossip – Eva Longoria, Sienna Miller and Natalie Portman at the time of Episode II – «I fell in love with it a little», he admitted, but only to «add authenticity to the role». Just twenty years ago he was entered by People in the list of “50 Most Beautiful People” – even if he always had that air of beautiful-that-doesn’t-dance.
Now think about something else. As a good citizen of Toronto continues to devote himself to his beloved Maple-Leafs, the ice hockey team and – since 2010 – has decided to drastically change his life. He moved away from the city, to an eighty-hectare estate.
“I’ve always loved the whole process of making a film,” he explained, “but I just have other interests as well there are many other territories that I want to explore».
The relationship with his alter ego, Darth Vader
At the call of Darth Vader, however, he could not resist. «Stand it is true that Vader he could have made better choices.” told the Corriere della Sera«it is just as they were also the circumstances to bring him where he is. There are redemptions, then relapses. He is a very complex character and that’s what I love most about him».
He says that being Darth Vader again set in motion «a lot of emotions» and that in a sense «it was cathartic» reliving certain sensations after twenty years.
Friendship with Ewan McGregor
In addition to being able to replay a character that has defined his career for better or for worse, Hayden had the opportunity to reunite with an old friend, Ewan McGregor.
“With Ewan,” she said, “we stayed very close, but we hadn’t seen each other for a long time and finding him with his character was extraordinary. We have a lot of fun together. And we both believe that we could not accept doing this series: we owed it to all the fans of the saga that were waiting for him, in the world”.
A wait that has turned into a tangible success. The first episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi has been more viewed than The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett (two other products of the universe of Star Wars).
«Follow the Force Luke» said Obi-Wan in Episode IV to Luke, son of Darth Vader-Hayden in film fiction. He did too. For once the “father” learned from the “son”. Hayden followed the Force. Going home was good for him.
iO Woman © REPRODUCTION RESERVED