To think of “Star Wars” is to think of Darth Vader and to think of Darth Vader is to think of Anakyn Skywalker and that implies remembering who gave him life almost two decades ago: Hayden Christensen.
The actor, as criticized at the time for the role as the movies were, had traded the galaxy and the spotlights for the quiet life on a farm. But now, he will return to the (dark) side of the force to give life to Darth Vader in two new episodes of the saga: “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “Ahsoka.”
From track to screen
Hayden Christensen was born on April 19, 1981 in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada). He is the son of David Christensen, a Canadian computer programmer of Danish descent, and Alie Christensen, a copywriter of Italian and Swedish descent.
In addition, he has three brothers, two older (Tove and Hejsa) and a younger girl (Kaylen). With them, Hayden shared the path to acting. Although as a child he was quite an athlete and played tennis and hockey competitively.
Despite being Canadian, he was vacationing in New York with his grandmother Rose Schwartz on Long Island (New York), so he was able to sign up for the Actor’s Studio. In addition, he also studied at the Canadian Arts York at Unionville High School (Markham, Ontario).
His first steps in the world of acting were in commercials in a rather improvised way. It all started because his sister Hejsa had to take Hayden to a recording of the commercial for a well-known brand of potato chips in which she was acting, when she could not find a babysitter.
There, his agent noticed Hayden, until then more interested in being a professional tennis player, for example, his first on-screen appearance was when he took to the court to play ball boy for John McEnroe, and he offered to participate in other commercials. He “was about 8 years old”, as he explained back in 2001 in an interview with Interview.
“It was a good excuse to miss school one day,” confessed Christensen, who made “one or two announcements a year.” Of course, he did not feel like a star: “once they were broadcast, I denied having participated in them because in a way it embarrassed me.” I didn’t even think about being an actor: “acting is not something that took me too seriously.”
From TV to the dark side
At the age of 12, he went from making spots to participating in television series, specifically, he began in “Family Passions” (1993). A year later, he was already making his debut in his first film: “In the Mouth of Madness” (1995).
He continued with this acting dynamic in the following years, with roles in films and series such as: “No Greater Love” (1996), “Goosebumps” (1997), “The Virgin Suicides” (1999), “High Ground” (2000) or “Life as a House” (2001).
The latter earned him his first Golden Globe nomination, while with the film “High Ground” he caught the attention of George Lucas: a few auditions later, he already had his Anakin Skywalker.
Christensen played this young version of Darth Vader in “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002), and in “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005). In addition, he also participated in the remastered version of the original trilogy film “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” (1983), which was released on DVD in 2004.
However, that role that should have consecrated his career was the opposite. The Star Wars prequel trilogy received poor reviews and little enthusiasm from fans, and so did Hayden, who even received the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor in 2002. Despite this, it was clear that he already was. a celebrity.
“I think I felt like there was something great about ‘Star Wars’ that gave me so many opportunities and gave me a career. But at the same time I was a little sorry … ”he told the Los Angeles Times.
From the galaxy to the farm
Though he did several roles afterward, Hayden needed a break. First, to change the cameras for agriculture: “At the moment it is a hobby, but I want to look like a farmer,” he told The Toronto Star in 2008.
Later, in the interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2015, he again emphasized his need for a break: “If this time was damaging my career, so be it. If I can come back later and break through again, maybe I feel like I deserve it, ”he explained.
And, indeed, Hayden lives on his own farm in Uxbridge, Ontario (Canada), although during the first stage of the COVID-19 pandemic he lived in Los Angeles, especially to raise his daughter Briar Rose, born in 2014 fruit of his relationship with actress Rachel Bilson, from whom he had separated in 2017.
They met on the set of “New York, I Love You” (2009). It is one of the movies and series that Hayden worked on after being Darth Vader. Other titles in which he participated were: “Factory Girl” (2006), “Awake (2007),” Virgin Territory “(2007),” Jumper “(2008),” Takers “(2010),” Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey ”(2010),“ Vanishing on 7th Street ”(2011),“ American Heist ”(2014),“ Outcast ”(2014),“ 90 Minutes in Heaven ”(2015),“ First Kill ”(2017), “Numb, at the Edge of the End” (2018 ”and“ Little Italy ”(2018).
Now, however, Hayden is going to put on Darth Vader’s black helmet again. He will do it in two “Star Wars” productions. On the one hand, in “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, where he will once again coincide with Ewan McGregor in the role of whoever was his teacher.
He will also be in “Ahsoka”, starring Rosario Dawson, with whom Hayden precisely met at the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute during his youth. Dawson gives life to what was Anakyn’s “Padawan”.
On this return, Hayden said in a statement that “it was an incredible journey being Anakyn Skywalker. What’s more, I feel good coming back ”.
Thus, there is little left to see Darh Vader again. Meanwhile, “may the force be with you.”