Hayden Christensen

The fallen Jedi
Damned in some ways, blessed in others.
Damned because of his character, Anakin Skywalker, corrupted by the cynical Palpatine’s absolute evil, bound to a prison of metal and electric circuits, blessed because a young Canadian amateur (they mean someone who hasn’t been to acting school, it’s not meant in an offensive way) actor has become part of film history without even realising it. To say the truth Christensen doesn’t look like a Hollywood star and, even now, he thinks fate played a trick on him…
The “Star Wars” adventure has completely changed your life, could you tell us how?
Being a part of the incredible “Star Wars” universe has favoured (literally “has opened the doors wide towards”) fame and it has given me the possiblitiy to travel around the world and meet a lot of people. Making a distinction between life before and after “Star Wars” is like making a distinction between day and night. Before I did “Star Wars” I was an amateur actor who’d just come out of high school and who worked in a small tv show in Canada (I suppose he’s talking about “Higher Ground”).
Now I know I’ve become a part of film history even though it’s a concept I still can’t picture completely. It still feels surreal, it’s the same feeling I had during the auditioning process (for “Star Wars”) when I barely managed to pay the plane ticket from Toronto to San Francisco. I thought something like this could never happen. Artistically speaking it’s been an important learning process: we actors learn something from every film and character we play and a playing a character like Anakin, who had a very precise (psychological) evolution, helped me grow up a lot, while he was evolving so was I.

And now that it’s all over how do you feel?
I’m relieved. “Star Wars” has been a huge commitment, it has conditioned five years of my life. Now I’ll have more spare time. Just think that during the filming of “Revenge of the Sith” in Australia I had to ask my brother to choose a house for me to buy in Los Angeles without me taking a look at it first. Once my latest commitment (“The Decameron”) here in Italy is over I’d like to take advantage of the fact that I’m here.

In “Revenge of the Sith” we finally see you wearing the legendary mask. What did you feel when you shot a scene as Darth Vader for the first time?
I was breathless, in every respect. It’s difficult to imagine it’s me in the costume and I can’t give an exact description of what I felt. I only know it was painful because to adapt the costume to my body they had to fill up the shoulders and put heels under my feet: let’s not forget that the first actor who wore the black mask was ten centimetres taller than me. My first thought was however the fans’ reaction: I wanted them to be satisfied more than anything else. Even though I was so excited to be wearing that costume my greatest problem was to stand on my feet and not fall over and break it.
From the moment they had finished putting the costume on me, the cameras had started rolling and George had yelled “Action!” it seemed like a lifetime had gone by. However, wearing that costume makes you feel powerful and evil, even though it’s been two years it’s something I can’t forget and it’s really difficult for me to say what I felt.

And how intense was it to play the fall and corruption of the young and promising Jedi Anakin Skywalker?
It was certainly very intense. Anakin can’t control his anger and the frustration of not having been able to save his loved ones. Then of course the dark side is a powerful force that drains the soul of every bit of compassion, that controls your mind like a devilish posession and that makes you do things you never thought you could be capable of doing. The reasons for Anakin’s choice come from real issues, from experiences that have regarded us all and that we can all easily understand. Playing Anakin meant exploring new and complex aspects of this character nad as an actor it was very exciting for me.
Being able to play a character who has such a complex arch is a privilege: the greatest challenge during Anakin’s evolution - or de-volution if you will - was to make the character emotionally conscious of the terrible things he was doing, which at the same time, however, he thought necessary.
I think this conflict allows the public to hate him but at the same time to pity him for being prisoner in this dimension from which he can’t ever escape.

Why do you think Anakin chooses to follow Palpatine rather than Yoda or his master Obi-Wan?
Anakin is searching for a guide he can follow unconditionally, he wants a father figure he’s never had. Palpatine understands and indulges his most secret wishes and the uses them to his advantage.

What did it feel like to become part (digitally) of a movie that was filmed twenty years ago (“The return of the Jedi”)?
It was fun to see myself standing next to Alec Guinness. It was a great present. I think it contributes to the story and I think that was George’s intent, to show this character in his uniformity, to give him a sense of continuity, and personally I think it worked.

Tell us about your projects after “Star Wars”. We know you’re here in Italy to shoot “The Decameron”……
At the moment this is the only thing I’m filming, “The Decameron”, directed by David Leland, that I’m filming in Cinecittà (it’s sort of a Roman Hollywood).
My character is a young man from Pisa (here in Tuscany, near Florence) called Lorenzo (Lawrence in Modern English) and the film is very interesting because it’s not like anything I’ve ever done before, partly because it’s an extremely funny comedy, partly because it allows me to spend some time here in Italy where I’ve got a few distant relatives and where I can eat marvellous things (he’s welcome to stay *lol*).
For once, wearing Roberto Cavalli’s costumes rather than a black mask is fun…

So you have relatives here in Italy?
Yes. My grandma was from Naples and she always fixed delicious things for me. Just imagine, I’ve put on three or four kg (one pound is equal to 0.454 kilograms so exercise your brains girls )…

What is your favourite kind of music?
Just like movies I don’t have one: I like Rock and Roll, Hip - Hop and classical music (good man!!!). I listen to a bit of everything except for Country and Techno, I can’t stand them.

How do you spend your free time?
I like travelling, playing tennis and hokey, when I can. being an actor is an unusual occupation because there are periods during which you just work and others during which you have time for yourself and your interests.

Does that go for your private life as well?
It goes without saying. At the moment I don’t have a girlfriend and I couldn’t anyway since my job requests that I travel around the world. For example in Australia I was so busy with “Star Wars” that I didn’t have time to enjoy certain friendships….

Comments are closed.