Hayden Christensen Thought He’d Lose ‘Star Wars’ Role Once He Heard Leonardo DiCaprio Met With Lucasfilm: Playing Anakin ‘Just Wasn’t a Possibility’

No one was shocked more than Hayden Christensen when he landed the role of Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith.” Christensenwas far from the biggest name that Lucasfilm was trying to lure into its galaxy far, far away. When he had heard that Leonardo DiCaprio was being courted, Christensen thought “Star Wars” was a lost cause for him.

“I had heard that they’d met with Leonardo and a bunch of other actors,” Christensen recently told Empire magazine. “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.”

While fans have come around to Christensen’s cast in recent years, the initial reviews for his performance as Anakin Skywalker were far from kind. Like the prequel movies themselves, Christensen found himself at the center of fan backlash.

“The character was criticized, my performance was criticized, and that part sucked,” he told Empire. “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. 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,” Christensen continued. “If you’re gonna go sit in a theater, 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. You know what I mean?”

Christensen ended up returning as Anakin/Darth Vader in some of the recent “Star Wars” television series on Disney+, including “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “Ahsoka.” The actor told Empire returning to the franchise “was a bucket-list item I didn’t even know I had.” It remains to be seen whether or not Christensen will be back as Darth Vader in the future.

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