With the start of filming of Episode IX on August 1st and the recent casting announcement, I am once again getting excited about a Star Wars movie. Since 2015, I have gotten used to seeing a new Star Wars movie at least every 12 months so it will be nice to have at 16 months to let the anticipation build to the conclusion of the Skywalker saga. I am looking forward to the long build up to Episode IX and it got me motivated to begin re-watching Episodes I-VIII. While watching Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith recently I began thinking about how much I enjoyed Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker.
I’ve always loved Hayden’s portrayal of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. His personification of angst, frustration, and infatuation in AOTC was how I expected a teenage Darth Vader to behave. His confidence (even overconfidence) and lust for power in ROTS are what I would imagine for a soon-to-be Sith Lord. I can’t imagine any other actor as Anakin (no, not even Leo). With the high expectations from fans leading up to Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker was a tough character to take on for anyone and I think Hayden Christensen nailed it. He humanized Darth Vader, which made his fall to the Dark Side even more tragic.
It is hard for me to pick my favorite Hayden Christensen moments, but much like Anakin, I’m going to try to do the impossible:
- Marching into the Jedi Temple on Coruscant after becoming Darth Vader – This scene with the clone troopers following him sets up the final act of ROTS perfectly.
- Holding and talking with his mother Shmi as she was dying in his arms – I love the intensity of Anakin’s emotions going from pain and anguish to anger.
- Talking to Padmé on Tatooine after Shmi died – Anakin has the sadness of a child even though he desperately wants to be a grown up.
- The scene on Mustafar with a tear running down his cheek – Heartbreaking
- The lightsaber battle against Obi-Wan on Mustafar – The history between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the weight of the outcome, and the amazing choreography make this my favorite lightsaber battle.
Hayden Christensen’s on-screen performance isn’t what I like best about him though. His humility and grace are what really make me appreciate him. I was proud to be a fan at Star Wars Celebration Orlando last year when Hayden was welcomed so warmly to the Celebration Stage. He seemed almost a little embarrassed by the outpouring of love from the fans, but he deserved every bit of it. By all accounts of fans who were able to meet him for pictures or autographs, he was very polite and friendly and we need more people like him in the Star Wars community.
I hope that Hayden Christensen will continue to be fully embraced by the Star Wars fandom. At the end of Return of the Jedi Anakin never got to impart any wisdom to Luke, but I’d love to see Hayden Christensen pass on what he has learned to the new generation of Star Wars stars. Also, since 2015 we’ve been able to see a wizened Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker on-screen. Why not Anakin Skywalker also?
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