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Hayden Christensen (born April 19, 1981) is a film actor from Vancouver, British Columbia. Christensen is best known for his portrayal of an adult Anakin Skywalker in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Christensen also portrayed Darth Vader in the final prequel, in both the character's suited and unsuited forms. He later returned to voice Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding chapter in the Skywalker Saga. He also wrote the foreword for The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. He reprised his role as Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with James Earl Jones, who returned as his voice. He also reprised his role as Anakin Skywalker in Ahsoka.

Biography[]

The prequel trilogy[]

Hayden Christensen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada[2] on April 19, 1981.[1] Christensen auditioned for the role of adult Anakin Skywalker with no concept that he would get the part.[3] On May 12, 2000, Christensen announced that he would be starring as the adult Anakin Skywalker in the next two prequels, Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005), succeeding Jake Lloyd, who played the character's younger self.[source?] The star was plucked from relative obscurity by director George Lucas[4] because he felt that Christensen had raw talent and good chemistry with actress Natalie Portman. Lucas said he "needed an actor who has that presence of the dark side" that was essential to solidify the story of the origins of Darth Vader. Lucas stunned the movie world by picking the then-unknown actor after he had turned down such big names as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonathan Jackson, as well as 400 other candidates.[source?] Getting cast in the role was a dream come true for Christensen.[3]

Shortly after he was picked by Lucas, Christensen felt nervous as he arrived at a soundstage in Sydney, Australia. He walked into the hair-and-makeup room to see Ewan McGregor for the first time who greeted Christensen as if they had been lifelong friends. He then gave Christensen a hug and welcomed him into the family. McGregor helped ease Christensen's transition into the huge droid-factory-like machinery of the Star Wars universe. Christensen was very passionate as an actor and filmed the scenes with much determination and energy. This extended into Christensen and McGregor's lightsaber rehearsals, which Christensen said was the most fun he had, and he described it as "playing with your friend every day."[4] Christensen had a hard time not making sound effects when he used a lightsaber in scenes.[5]

In the scene where Skywalker speaks to Watto in Attack of the Clones, the script had the dialogue written in English and in parentheses, it said "in Wattanese." The day before the scene was filmed, Christensen asked Lucas what the language should sound like, and he told the actor he could make it up as long as it did not sound like English or any other language. Christensen then spent the night before trying to figure out how to make up Wattanese.[6]

AnakinSkywalker

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker

In the final two films of the prequel trilogy, Christensen was the only actor portraying a Jedi who was not allowed to customize his character's lightsaber. This was because in Episode II, Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber was built to be reminiscent of Darth Vader's lightsaber in the original trilogy, while in Episode III, Anakin's lightsaber was designed to match the lightsaber that Obi-Wan Kenobi gives to Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hopecanonically, the same lightsaber.

Christensen, during the production of Episode III, asked Lucas if a special Darth Vader suit could be constructed to fit his own body, rather than have a different actor don one of the original sets of Vader armor worn by David Prowse. Lucas agreed, and a suit was engineered to fit Christensen's frame, even including extensions to allow for the actor to attain Vader's 2.02-meter (6 feet 8 inches) stature. Christensen's voice as the "robotic" Vader, however, was dubbed over by James Earl Jones despite rumors to the contrary.[source?] The costume was briefly worn by Christensen at the end of the film.[7] The actor had a difficult time moving around in the suit, and it was extremely rigid. When he told Lucas about this, the director suggested that wearing the suit should feel very mechanical and unnatural.[8] Christensen felt like finishing Revenge of the Sith signified that his job with Star Wars was done.[5] The prequels were subjected to much criticism from audiences, which he said was difficult to deal with because he cared so much about the prequels and he invested so much of himself into the films.[4]

For the DVD release of the original trilogy, Christensen's head was digitally superimposed onto the body of Sebastian Shaw as the Force ghost of Anakin.[9] Shaw's face during the unmasking scene was subtly altered to better resemble an elder Christensen. Additionally, Shaw's eyebrows were digitally removed in order to reflect Anakin's appearance after being burned alive on Mustafar. Christensen insists this was done without his knowledge, an act that Lucasfilm confirmed in the featurette "Return of the Jedi: What has changed?" as posted to the official website to commemorate the 2006 DVDs.

Star Wars hiatus[]

His role as Anakin Skywalker made him a star. Although his performance in both films was met with mixed reviews, he became very popular, being named in People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" and "50 Hottest Bachelors" and Teen People magazine's "25 Hottest Stars under 25." A Singapore magazine also named him, for his time as Darth Vader prior to Mustafar, as "Prettiest Villain." For both appearances as Anakin, he won a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor in 2003 and 2005 respectively. In 2006, for his portrayal in Revenge of the Sith, Christensen won the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.

After the release of Revenge of the Sith in 2005, Christensen made visits to Skywalker Ranch and was motivated by the "sense of peace and escape" he felt. He then took a break from Hollywood in general and bought a farm in the Canadian countryside.[4] Skywalker defined Christensen's life in many ways, both professionally and personally.[3]

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said that Christensen was not considered to play Darth Vader in the 2016 anthology film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story because the scene of Vader chasing the rebels "was just such a specific action sequence." Christensen was not part of any of the conversations about Rogue One, but he loved what the film did with the character and he thought it was brilliant.[4]

For the 40th anniversary of Star Wars in 2017, he appeared on stage at Celebration Orlando alongside George Lucas and Ian McDiarmid, and was interviewed by Andi Gutierrez on The Star Wars Show LIVE!.[10][11]

Obi-Wan Kenobi television series[]

"Yes, I always see Anakin as a throughline and an undercurrent to [Darth Vader]. Vader is trying his best to kill off that side of him, but there always has to be a little bit of Anakin in there. And that presents itself, and that's a part of the fun. I'm always thinking about the Anakin aspect of this character."
―Hayden Christensen[6]
Vader-OWKPoster

Darth Vader character poster for Obi-Wan Kenobi

During production of the Obi-Wan Kenobi television series, it was decided that Vader would appear and he would be played by Christensen again. Writer Joby Harold thought it was important to have Christensen be a part of the project because he was a massive part of the character.[4] In the fall of 2019,[12] director Deborah Chow went to Christensen's farm to make her pitch in person. Chow talked about the project and her vision for it.[4] She promised that Vader would add a new dimension that could reframe the way fans look at Vader and Kenobi's duel in A New Hope.[12] Christensen thought it sounded wonderful and was excited to return to Star Wars[4] and reunite with McGregor.[3] When Christensen first came on the set, Chow thought it was intense to have an iconic character and that she was able to direct and film new scenes with him. Christensen said that putting the suit back on felt very surreal[4] and "cathartic in a way" because the character meant a lot to Christensen and stayed with him over the years. He said playing Vader was an emotional experience.[13] Christensen said that the first time he saw McGregor as Kenobi was a very special moment that he'd remember for a very long time. He had a very fun time playing Vader in the show[4] and felt like coming back was a privilege.[14] Chow said she enjoyed working with Christensen and thought he was wonderful.[15]

HaydenChristensenTrainsWithRossKohnstam

Hayden Christensen training for a lightsaber duel with Ross Kohnstam

Christensen said that exploring the mindset and emotional state of Vader was "a lot of fun."[14] He always thought about the Anakin Skywalker aspect of Vader.[6] The actor liked that he had the opportunity to flesh out Vader a little bit more and he was excited to show a "glimpse into the experience of being Darth Vader."[5] Many of Christensen's conversations with Chow were about him wanting to "convey this feeling of strength, but also coupled with imprisonment," which he thought was an interesting space to explore.[12] To prepare for playing Vader again, Christensen watched all of the Star Wars films, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels,[16] and he read some of the comics.[17] He thought the animated series were interesting and he liked how the character's relationships' were explored.[16] He also practiced with a lightsaber with McGregor's stunt double, Ross Kohnstam.[12]

Christensen wore a Vader costume that was very hot and heavy, but there was an under-layer with cooling liquid in it. Between takes, Christensen was plugged into a device that circulated the liquid and helped him cool down. Christensen said that the mechanical element made him feel more like Vader.[7] The costume also had tinted helmet lenses.[4] Olga Sokolova, a choreographer and Vader movement specialist, made sure that Christensen moved and walked correctly in the suit. This was done because the actor wanted to stay true to how Vader moves and how he is perceived by fans.[8] It took Christensen nine months to gain 25-30 pounds to fit in the suit.[18] There were some scenes that were too challenging for Christensen to be filmed in the suit,[6] so the suit was also worn by Dmitrious Bistrevsky and Tom O'Connell.[19] When Christensen spoke Vader's lines on set, he pulled aspects from James Earl Jones' delivery and intonation. Jones also voiced Vader and his line readings were added in post-production.[20]

HaydenChristenseninBactaTank

Hayden Christensen in a bacta tank

The first scene shot with Christensen was when he played Anakin Skywalker in a vision seen by Kenobi[21] in the third episode.[22] The scene was shot on location, and McGregor insisted on staying on the set to be part of Christensen's first shot back.[21] Christensen also played a helmet-less Vader in a bacta tank in the series. The crew knew the actor would have to hold his breath while submerged in the water, so he worked with a dive instructor who helped him build up his breath holds. Christensen was not allowed to breathe through the regulator. Christensen thought that the tank was peaceful and meditative.[23] A team of make-up artists spent four to five hours applying make-up on Christensen for him to play Vader in those scenes. He worked very closely with executive creative director of Lucasfilm, Doug Chiang, who gave input into the overall look.[6] Christensen and McGregor trained with lightsabers for the flashback of Skywalker and Kenobi training[3] in the fifth episode.[24] They both had dots on their face for the de-aging technology.[3]

On December 10, 2020, Kathleen Kennedy announced that Christensen would be returning in the role of Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan Kenobi television series at the Disney Investor Day presentation.[25] He was interviewed for Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return, a documentary about the making of the series.[3]

Works[]

Filmography[]

Year Title Series Contribution(s) Notes
2002 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones Anakin Skywalker
2005 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
2018 "A World Between Worlds" Star Wars Rebels Anakin Skywalker Audio taken from other sources
2019 "Yoda vs Count Dooku – Size Matters Not" Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Anakin Skywalker
2019 Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker Anakin Skywalker Voice only
2020 "Shattered" Star Wars: The Clone Wars Anakin Skywalker
2022 "Part I" Obi-Wan Kenobi Anakin Skywalker Archive footage
2022 "Part II" Obi-Wan Kenobi Darth Vader[25]
2022 "Part III" Obi-Wan Kenobi Darth Vader/Hallucination of Anakin Skywalker
2022 "Part IV" Obi-Wan Kenobi Darth Vader
2022 "Part V" Obi-Wan Kenobi Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
2022 "Part VI" Obi-Wan Kenobi Darth Vader
2022 Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return Special Thanks to[3]
2023 "Part Four: Fallen Jedi" Ahsoka Anakin Skywalker[26]
2023 "Part Five: Shadow Warrior" Ahsoka Anakin Skywalker[27]
2023 "Part Seven: Dreams and Madness" Ahsoka Anakin Skywalker[28]
2023 "Part Eight: The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord" Ahsoka Anakin Skywalker[29]

Bibliography[]

Year Title Notes
2008 The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Wrote the foreword
2017 Attack of the Clones Read-Along Storybook and CD Voiced Anakin Skywalker
2017 Revenge of the Sith Read-Along Storybook and CD Voiced Anakin Skywalker

Sources[]

Wiki-shrinkable This out-of-universe list is incomplete. You can help Wookieepedia by expanding it.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 This Week in Star Wars logo This Week! in Star Wars A Sneak Peek at Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, Join The Star Wars Show Book Club, and More! on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded Edition
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi's Return
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Inside the 17-year journey to reunite Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (March 10, 2022) (archived from the original on March 10, 2022)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 YouTube Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen & Moses Ingram Answer 7 Star Wars Questions on the Vanity Fair YouTube channel (backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' Star Hayden Christensen Explores His Latest Darth Vader Incarnation and Talks Anakin's (Much-Memed) Sand Feelings by Parker, Ryan on The Hollywood Reporter (June 13, 2022) (archived from the original on June 13, 2022)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hayden Christensen interview: 'It's great to hide behind a mask' by Huddleston, Tom on Time Out (May 16, 2022) (archived from the original on May 16, 2022)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hayden Christensen says his Obi-Wan Kenobi character had a 'Vader movement specialist' by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (May 24, 2022) (archived from the original on May 24, 2022)
  9. SWInsider "Ask the Master" — Star Wars Insider 91
  10. StarWars SWCO 2017: 11 Highlights from the Powerful "40 Years of Star Wars" Panel on StarWars.com (backup link)
  11. The star wars show logo The Star Wars Show: Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 Live Stream – Day 3 | The Star Wars Show LIVE! on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Star Wars: The Rebellion Will Be Televised by Breznican, Anthony on Vanity Fair (May 17, 2022) (archived from the original on May 17, 2022)
  13. TwitterLogo AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) on Twitter: "HIS DARTH SIDE: Hayden Christensen gets back in his Darth Vader costume for the new @ObiWanKenobi TV series." (backup link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Hayden Christensen teases more Darth Vader: "The extent of this journey remains to be seen" by Shepherd, Jack on GamesRadar+ (April 22, 2022) (archived from the original on April 25, 2022)
  15. Obi-Wan Kenobi director explains the return of Darth Vader by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (March 24, 2022) (archived from the original on March 24, 2022)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Hayden Christensen binged Star Wars animated shows to prepare for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Ross, Dalton on Entertainment Weekly (April 19, 2022) (archived from the original on April 19, 2022)
  17. YouTube Star Wars Spin-Off OBI-WAN KENOBI: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Moses Ingram & Deborah Chow on the Kino Plus YouTube channel (backup link)
  18. Hayden Christensen on Darth Vader, Millennial Star Wars Fans, & Fatherhood by Britt, Ryan on Fatherly (June 16, 2022) (archived from the original on June 16, 2022)
  19. Instagram-Logo Dmitrious Bistrevsky (@demeet2k) on Instagram: The Cats out of the bag. I LIKE CATS 🐈‍⬛: "Some scenes required switch back and forth between multiple people. It took a village. (...) Vader is played by three people, we all worked together to create the best Darth Vader in cinematic history. It's me, it's Hayden , It's Tom. We are a symbiosis. We all contributed our strengths to create the best representation of the character. (...) Hayden and I both act in the Darth Vader scenes, we bring the character and the emotions (and the pain, suffering, anger) I'm 6'7 so when you see a full body shot it looks better having an actor, vs a CGI creation. Tom specializes in the fighting. The fights are Tom. Full body with Helmet On is me, Hayden carries the heaviest burden of all, the pain and betrayal of his best friend and once mentor. (...) Hayden wore the suit, I wore the suit, Tom wore the suit. We all worked together to create the best character we possibly can. We are a team." (backup link)
  20. Hayden Christensen talks playing a 'more brutal' Darth Vader in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' and reveals that he still hasn't met James Earl Jones by Alter, Ethan on Yahoo! Entertainment (June 13, 2022) (archived from the original on June 13, 2022)
  21. 21.0 21.1 Obi-Wan Kenobi's Hayden Christensen Talks Wearing The Anakin Costume Again And Ewan McGregor's 'Sweet' Gesture by Hurley, Laura on www.cinemablend.com (June 15, 2022) (archived from the original on June 15, 2022)
  22. Obi-Wan Kenobi new series logo Obi-Wan Kenobi — "Part III"
  23. Star Wars' Hayden Christensen On Holding His Breath And Performing As Darth Vader In The Obi-Wan Kenobi Bacta Tank by Hurley, Laura on Cinemablend (June 21, 2022) (archived from the original on June 21, 2022)
  24. Obi-Wan Kenobi new series logo Obi-Wan Kenobi — "Part V"
  25. 25.0 25.1 StarWars Future Lucasfilm Projects Revealed on StarWars.com (backup link)
  26. AhsokaS1 Logo Ahsoka — "Part Four: Fallen Jedi"
  27. AhsokaS1 Logo Ahsoka — "Part Five: Shadow Warrior"
  28. AhsokaS1 Logo Ahsoka — "Part Seven: Dreams and Madness"
  29. AhsokaS1 Logo Ahsoka — "Part Eight: The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord"

External links[]

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