Hayden Christensen never thought he’d get Star Wars after hearing Leonardo DiCaprio was up for the role

Connie Queline

Hayden Christensen never thought he’d get Star Wars after hearing Leonardo DiCaprio was up for the role

Hayden Christensen never thought he’d get Star Wars after hearing that Leonardo DiCaprio was up for the role of Anakin.

Just about every young actor in Hollywood came running when George Lucas began looking for someone to play Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Hayden Christensen was one of them, but he never believed he’d actually get the Star Wars role, particularly when he learned that major actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio were supposedly in the running.

I was 18, and I got a call from my agent saying that they were casting for Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars and I thought, ‘Wow, how cool.’ But it just seemed too big,” Christensen told Empire. “And I remember asking my agent, ‘Is there maybe another role that they’re also casting right now that you can put me up for? Because Anakin sort of seems unattainable.’ And there was not. So I threw my name in the hat like everyone else.

Christensen added, “I had heard that they’d met with Leonardo and a bunch of other actors. That just confirmed my thought that the role would go to another actor. Through the entire auditioning process I had told myself, from day one, that I wasn’t going to get the part. It just wasn’t a possibility. And I think that probably helped me a lot, because it just freed me up in a lot of ways. And so it really came as a surprise to me when I got the part.

Playing Anakin Skywalker thrust Christensen into the spotlight, and the actor appreciated that George Lucas helped him deal with it. “It was a big adjustment for me,” he said. “Everything changed pretty quickly in my life when I got cast in Star Wars, you know? It was an exciting time, but everything was very new. I appreciated that George Lucas went out of his way to try to help me navigate a lot of that. But there’s no way of really preparing for it. You just sort of learn as you go.

Unfortunately, the newfound attention wasn’t always positive, and Christensen faced the full force of disgruntled Star Wars fans.

Because Star Wars has had the cultural impact that it has, these characters almost become public domain, where people feel a sense of ownership over them. The character was criticised, my performance was criticised, and that part sucked. But I also felt like I had some context that perhaps helped a little bit. When Episode I came out, there was a lot of excitement that they were making a new Star Wars, and it was going to be the backstory of Darth Vader. But I had friends that were upset that the character was starting off as this young kid. And I watched the film, and I loved it. It was everything I wanted and more.

Christensen continued, “And I didn’t understand the disconnect between the movie that I saw, and the negativity in some of the reviews. In a way that sort of criticism, I think, comes from a certain failure of their own suspension of disbelief. If you’re gonna go sit in a theatre, and the opening scroll starts with, ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,’ that’s setting the stage that anything is possible. These people don’t need to sound and behave the way that we might expect. And if you’re going to sit down and think that you’re getting something that is of our current zeitgeist, then you’re setting yourself up for something else.” Thankfully, the actor’s return for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka was celebrated by fans.


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