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The Force of Hayden Christensen Part Three

STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES has arrived, and so has the new Anakin Skywalker

By SCOTT COLLURA     May 16, 2002


Anakin (Hayden Chistensen), Padme (Natalie Portman) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) prepare for a GLADIATOR-like battle in STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES
© and TM 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd.
Cast as Anakin Skywalker in the latest episode of the STAR WARS saga, relative newcomer Hayden Christensen has achieved what so many of his young acting peers can only dream about. But what effect will starring in ATTACK OF THE CLONES have on the young man's life? And what does he think of George Lucas's beloved sci-fi series? Christensen addresses these questions today in the final part of our interview with him.

Anakin (Hayden Chistensen), Padme (Natalie Portman) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) prepare for a GLADIATOR-like battle in STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES



Christensen, who just turned 21 in April, is too young to have experienced the original STAR WARS trilogy phenomenon back in the late '70s and early '80s. When asked if he's a STAR WARS "fanatic," he reveals an interest in a different pop-culture franchise.

"I was a HE-MAN fan growing up," he laughs. "As a child I was more into cartoons than watching films. But when they digitally remastered and re-released the film, I saw all of those. And I remember seeing STAR WARS as a child. I remember how much I enjoyed the films."

Of course, he was also familiar with Lucas's 1999 return to his franchise, EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE, as well as the backlash that film suffered when it was released to mediocre critical reception. Still, the actor says he felt no pressure to make EPISODE II a film that fans would like better than EPISODE I.

"I'm not [the one] making the film," says Christensen. "I don't know if George was thinking about [making it better]. I thought number one was a success, in terms of how it fit into the arc as a whole. I enjoyed it. I hope that people like it now because they see how the story is coming through. Plus, I hope they see how the bright vibrant-ness of what he did in EPISODE I is intentionally descending into a much darker, more tragic film. The destruction of the Republic. But my character, that's all I was focused on [while making this film]."

Anakin (Hayden Chistensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) in ATTACK OF THE CLONES



For all his focus as an actor though, Christensen can't help but be aware of how huge starring in a STAR WARS film is.

"The upside of being a part of a big film saga [is] that [it] plays such an important part of so many people's lives," he says. "And that has a positive impact. [Also,] you get to make choices that I'm more confident making, in terms of the next role I want to take. It's very exciting. And you know, these films attract such an amazing following and provide such a great mechanism for escape for so many people... and to be a part of that is special because when someone comes up to you on the street and asks for an autograph or something or is sort of sharing some words, it's nice to know that you're having a positive effect on that person's life for a day or for however long they care to take that with them. So, it's neat to be a part of it."

Of course, there's always a flipside to everything. "The downside is that your choices are limited when you want to go to the store and get some snack food. Your face is everywhere."

Sounds like the plight of many overnight-superstar actors of years past. Mark Hamill is one name that comes to mind...

"As an actor all you have are your choices," continues Christensen. "Mark Hamill made his choices. Harrison Ford made his own choices. I'll make my own choices."

Hayden Christensen is Anakin Skywalker, an accomplished Jedi apprentice who faces choices that will impact not only his own fate, but the destiny of the Republic in STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES.



One recent choice Christensen made was to appear in a stage production in London, one that soon became the biggest ticket in town. When asked if those box office-busting results were the result of STAR WARS related hype, the actor demurs.

"I can't comment on that," he says. "It was a good play. I'm very fond of the playwright. Hopefully it was his writing and it was the performances that drew people in."

As the interview with Hayden Christensen comes to an end, the actor is asked about his favorite movies. He reveals a fondness for another, albeit different type of, fantasy epic.

"My favorite movie is THE PRINCESS BRIDE." he says. "[I've seen it] too many times to count. It's my favorite because I've enjoyed it since I was a little kid and I enjoy it each time I see it."

Kind of like STAR WARS for some of us, huh?

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