Hayden Christensen’s “Darkest” Days

Well, we knew it was coming. Anakin Skywalker was going to turn into Darth Vader whether we liked it or not. With the final “Star Wars” episode (Stars Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) hitting theaters on the 19th, the unfortunate transformation is complete. Young actor Hayden Christensen, who first started his journey to the dark side in “Attack of the Clones”, couldn’t wait to don the frightening black helmet but, in between the “Star Wars” productions, the actor impressed us as a fallen journalist who made up all his supposedly true articles in the drama Shattered Glass.

This last episode of the “Star Wars” saga is filled with angst, sorrow, great action, amazing special effects and one heck of a physical and emotional challenge for Hayden whose own journey has been full of surprises, thrills and, now that he’ll never swing a light saber again, a little bit of sorrow. Check out what this Jedi Knight turned Sith Lord has to say about stepping into an evil icon’s boots and where he goes from here.
TeenHollywood: I see your face everywhere. Is that just surreal for you? To be an action figure etc.?
Hayden: Yeah. The action figure is actually sort of cool. It’s weird to have your face on a bag of potato chips or on a cereal or a packet of M&Ms or something like that, but the action figures and the video games I get a kick out of.

TeenHollywood: What was it like to finally put on the Darth Vader suit?
Hayden: It was so cool. It was hard to describe. I mean every emotion you can imagine. It was just overwhelming, thrilling, empowering, [and] saddening.

TeenHollywood: Why saddening?
Hayden: Because it meant real closure for me. I was given the task of being the connective tissue into Darth Vader and to get to don the dark helmet and put on the whole get up, it meant my task was complete. So it was a day I’ll never forget. It’s not often you get to get inside of Darth Vader. As an actor it’s always very freeing to get to act behind a mask but to have that mask be the face of Darth Vader is like no other experience. It was very cool.

TeenHollywood: Did you study any of Vader’s movements or little habits from the original trilogy?
Hayden: Yeah. It’s all pretty simple stuff, the folding of the arms and that sort of thing. [In this film] there was also a freshness and sort of almost an awkwardness to his movements. He’s not very well-oriented in the costume yet or in the mechanical suit. So it’s not like he’s striding as he did in episode 4, 5, and 6, which I though was kind of neat. I told George [Lucas] that the costume doesn’t move quite right and it’s a little rigid and it was difficult as well because I had big lifts in the heels to compensate for the height difference. I said, ‘How is that going to look?’ and he said, ‘It will look like you’ve never worn it before and that’s what I want.’ So it made sense.

TeenHollywood: You do a lot more physical action in this film. Did you have to work out more?
Hayden: Absolutely. This film is driven by one action sequence after another and so there was lots of running around and all fun stuff but very physically demanding. But everything I was very well prepared for. I went out to Sydney three months before we started filming and was working out with the trainer, sometimes twice a day and training with Nick Gillard and Ewan [McGregor] for the light saber fights which was just so much fun but yeah, it was definitely a more physically challenging film.
TeenHollywood: How does it feel being a part of a film legend, a whole sub-culture?

Hayden: I was over at George’s house for dinner and his daughter Katie Lucas drove me back and she was talking about going to school at USC for a year and how bizarre of an experience that is for her to go onto campus and to make her applications and to walk by the George Lucas building and to read in her pamphlet that they offer a history of the George Lucas films and a retrospective on his work. This man has made such an impact on the medium of film, it’s incredible. He’s a visionary. So I think inevitably he’ll be around for as long as film is around, or the projection process. I don’t know if you can call it film now, but whatever.
TeenHollywood: But, how does it effect you personally?
Hayden: I try to not give it too much thought because it’s hard to get your head around, but it’s been really cool. Cool’s not the right word. It’s been a privilege to get to be a part of George Lucas’ world, and the sort of niche that he’s afforded me in his films and the role that he gave me was more than I could ever dream of so it’s been pretty neat.
TeenHollywood: You’ve talked about the cool stuff. What was the most difficult or negative thing about working on these films?
Hayden: I guess trying to work in front of a blue screen and all the sort of necessities that aren’t that conducive to doing your best work [as an actor]. But [these things] have to be there for the way these films are put together. It was difficult to get my head around that and to feel comfortable. Their ability to adjust a performance is a little discerning at times. I remember being rushed to the set and I hadn’t had my wig on yet. I wore a wig in the film. I was like, ‘I don’t have my wig on, I can’t be in the scene yet, George’ and they said ‘don’t worry about it. We’ll just put it in on post’. Or like adjusting a line. After we shot one scene he was like, ‘Oh I think I’d would have rather had you say this’ and I was like, ‘Alright let’s go and reshoot it’. And he was like, ‘Oh no. We’ll just do it in post. We’ll just move your lips a little bit and then you can just dub it. You can do it in ADR’. Okay, but the sentiment wasn’t the same. That’s always a little weird but so be it. That’s what I signed up for.
TeenHollywood: What was it like for you watching this film for the first time?
Hayden: It’s a completely original experience which makes it a lot of fun to go and see for the first time because I think that they’ve taken the technology to new level on this last one. It is absolutely seamless, in my opinion. In the last two they had created these incredible landscapes and really neat characters on the computer but there were always times when you got a sense that it was coming from the computer and I felt like in this last one, never at any point in the film [did] I have to remove myself from being invested in the film to sort of witness the technology. I thought it was really well done. It’s a lot of fun to watch. The light sabers are lit up [in the film] and I’m actually talking to characters that weren’t there before [while shooting] and that process of acting to a little “x” on a wall can sometimes be frustrating. To see it come to life in a way that’s appeasing is always a relief.

TeenHollywood: Were you looking forward to Anakin turning to the dark side?
Hayden: Absolutely. From the moment I got the part. That’s what I’ve been waiting to do. It was great fun making this last film because I sort of had free reign as far as how dark I wanted to go. That was the joy. I’ve always thought it was more fun to play the baddies and this time I actually got to play a proper baddie.
TeenHollywood: So you were saving all this emotion up for this last film?

Hayden: Before, I was definitely asked to sort of refrain from [going dark] and in a lot of ways, take it in an opposite direction which, having seen this last film I think makes perfect sense now. He was a petulant teenager in the last one, because his frustrations manifested themselves in sort of a whiny manner and that really makes him a much more pathetic character. At the end of this film you feel sorry for him. It humanizes him. It’s, I think, very clever.
TeenHollywood: We hear you kept your light saber. Where is it?
Hayden: It sits in my closet. I don’t do much of anything with it. Occasionally every now and then I’ll take it out and give it a twirl but other than that it’s just there. I know it’s there.

TeenHollywood: What in the world do you do after playing Darth Vader?

Hayden: The Decameron. With Mischa Barton and Tim Roth. It’s set in the 1400’s. A bunch of youths trying to escape the black plague have a sort of adventure, mischief and what not. It’s a fun film. It’s a comedy. It’s a different vein for me. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
TeenHollywood: The black plague is funny?
Hayden: Well, it’s not actually about the black plague. It’s about the happenings of them escaping the black plague, which is a lot of fun actually.

TeenHollywood: Lucas has said that there will be no more Star Wars films. Is that okay with you?
Hayden: This has always been the story that he’s wanted to tell from the very get go this is how he envisioned telling it – sequels and prequels - and that’s the story. It’s a generational story of Anakin and his son and unless they want to go and have Luke go knock up some girl and tell that story, there’s not much else to do.
TeenHollywood: Which was your favorite battle scene in the film?
Hayden: Obi Wan and Anakin, obviously, just ‘cause that’s the fight. It was just a lot of fun to do because I get along well with Ewan. In episode 2 we’d go off and sort of twirl our light sabers together but we never actually got to fight each other. On this one we went out and trained together and it was a lot of fun. I think, just as an audience member, that has to be probably the most impactful fight as you’re sort of emotionally invested in it also. But, the Yoda fight as well I think is pretty cool.

TeenHollywood: Are you still sad now that you’ve made this final Star Wars journey?
Hayden: it’s been such a huge part of the past five years of my life that to have it have some finality, which I’m starting to feel, is bittersweet. I’ve developed such a fondness for the people involved in these films and an appreciation for my role in the films that it’s hard to say your goodbyes. But, at the same time, I’m very keen and excited to go and work on other things and play other roles so I look forward to the future.

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