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The Force of Hayden Christensen Part Two

The young actor discusses life in the STAR WARS universe

By SCOTT COLLURA     May 15, 2002


Hayden Christensen is Anakin Skywalker in ATTACK OF THE CLONES.
© and TM 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd.
As the actor lucky enough to be cast as Anakin Skywalker in the new STAR WARS film, Hayden Christensen has seen his life change in a big way in a relatively short amount of time. And the movie isn't even out yet! But all that changes tomorrow, when George Lucas's highly anticipated STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES debuts. Today we continue our talk with young Christensen.

Anakin (Hayden Chistensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) are surrounded by both Jedi and battle droids in STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES' climactic battle



One popular misperception regarding Lucas's film is that he didn't have a completed script when he began production on ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Christensen would beg to differ, however, pointing out that it's not that the filmmaker didn't have a scriptit's just that his particular working methods are different from most.

"He did have a full script when he went to shooting," says the actor. "But he does let a film build itself in the editing room. He builds a film like Lego, putting piece on top of piece on top of piece. He modifies it the way he sees fit. So if he wants to change anything he can go back and do it. If you can afford it, that's probably the best way to do it as a filmmaker. But as an actor it's not ideal, because when you're done you leave your character behind. I found I was constantly having to pick that character back up. I had to remember what was going on in my head."

For those who are counting, that's 18 months on and off the set, back and forth for STAR WARS re-shoots, that Christensen had to be prepared to channel Anakin when needed. But that's not the only tough part about being an actor in a Lucas movie. There's also the physical and mental side of the visual-effects-laden shoot...

Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala and Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker are joined by R2-D2 and C-3PO on the desert planet Tatooine in STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES



"There's a lot of blue screen involved," says Christensen. "Physical circumstances are that you're very dependant on the other actor you're working with. You don't have environment to work with, so you have to use a lot of your imagination. The trust between the actors becomes stronger because of it. That's all you have to work with."

When it is suggested that blue screen acting and theater acting are on opposite ends of the spectrum, Christensenwho just completed a run on stage in London's West Endoffers his own take on the differences and similarities between the two.

"I don't think you have to be dependant on a live audience's reactions because some nights they just won't feel like going along," he says. "They won't laugh when they're supposed to, for example. If anything, there is that imaginary fourth wall. So for me blue screen work and theater work is similar because in each you have to draw deep into yourself and be more dependant on the other actor you're working with, more than any other tangible stimuli on other kinds of films."

Christensen also points out that sometimes it's a kick working with the blue screen.

Hayden Christensen is Anakin Skywalker in ATTACK OF THE CLONES.



"That's the fun of seeing the movie," he explains. "Because the way it appears in the final film is nothing like the way it's shot. You get to see it on the page, so you kind of know, but seeing it the first time, you finally get to see what George had in mind. His vision is pretty amazing."

The actor does admit to a sense of relief now that the film is finally being released. Not having any real idea what the finished product would look like for so long was difficulthaving to, effectively, wait for the ILM technicians to insert all of the CGI visuals that make up such a big part of the new STAR WARS trilogy. And there's also the satisfaction he feels now, seeing his character's development in the finished film.

"[There's] definitely a sense of release, to be done with this part of Anakin's development and to be this much closer to being able to continue that arc," says Christensen. "To see the finished film, I had no idea he was creating such extreme visual environments. They did it on EPISODE I, but the technology has already come such a long way since even then. I was completely consumed by the environments and the worlds he created. I'm completely convinced that if these creatures existed, that's how they would have moved. It affords you more liberty because you're not trying to imitate Earth in any way, or realty in any way. But nevertheless I thought it was visually spectacular."

Be sure to check back for the conclusion of CINESCAPE's Hayden Christensen profile.

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