Hayden Christensen, actor

When Fox’s “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” hits theaters in May, Hayden Christensen will have made the biggest hero-to-villain transformation in modern American cinema: Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader. It is a performance Christensen says he has been dying to unleash. “This was the Anakin that I was so eager to play in (2002’s ‘Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones’),” he says. The thing is, during the making of “Clones,” director George Lucas admonished the British Columbia-born actor not to tap into the dark side too soon. “George was always like, ‘No, you’ve gotta hold off a little bit for that Anakin.” So, perhaps sensing a star-making turn on the (dark) horizon, ShoWest has named Christensen 2005’s Male Star of Tomorrow. As he prepares to start shooting in Italy for Dino De Laurentiis Prods.’ 2006 release “The Decameron,” Christensen spoke recently with Dylan Callaghan for The Hollywood Reporter about being mentored by Lucas and just being a nice guy.
The Hollywood Reporter: Is it at all daunting to receive an award from ShoWest that has so much expectation attached to it?

Hayden Christensen: I seem to have gotten a few of these, the “One to Watch” or the “Star of Tomorrow,” awards. It’s always a
little daunting but flattering nonetheless. It’s an honor.

THR: How much has the “Star Wars” experience taught you about the craft of acting?

Christensen: You’d be surprised, but you learn an awful lot from those films. The environment in which they are made really
requires an overactive imagination. In a lot of ways, you can liken it to being on the stage, when you don’t have all the stimulus
you get when you’re on location shooting a film. It really demands that you commit yourself to this supposed world that will later
be imposed on the blue screens. You’re acting to characters that aren’t always there, and oftentimes, you’re getting your dialogue
delivered from an (assistant director) you know, reading the Yoda lines.

THR: What have you learned from George Lucas about the business of moviemaking?

Christensen: So much. He has really been a bit of a mentor for me. He has such a healthy and educated perspective — to sit
down with him, listen to him and share his experiences is a real gift.

THR: How much has Anakin changed in “Sith”?

Christensen: It’s a much different Anakin this time around. He’s in the midst of the Clone Wars. All the stresses and anxieties in
his life have furthered and are really coming to fruition for him in this film. It’s about how he handles the tangible anxieties that
push him, (and) Anakin doesn’t cope too well.

THR: “Decameron” is diametrically different than “Sith.” Was your selection of that project an attempt to avoid “Star Wars”

Christensen: I just want to do work that I find fulfilling and challenging and that’s going to make me grow as an actor; I’m really in
it for myself and the fulfillment I get out of the work. Doing things that are challenging and different from what I’ve done in the
past (is) what’s going to keep me happy and keep me on edge.

THR: Decades from now, when you’re looking back on your career, how would you like to be perceived by the industry and the

Christensen: To be honest, I really don’t give too much thought to how the industry or the public perceives my career.
At the end of the day, I’d like to be remembered as a nice guy; that’s what’s most important to me. I find the work fulfilling.
But as far as what people think of me, I think kindness is the only thing that really matters and the only thing that has any real
staying power. Celebrity can be like vapor — it dissipates very quickly. Who you are is what has staying power.

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