Whatever happened to Hayden Christensen
Do you remember that guy who played Anakin Skywalker, the one that turned into Vader? The one that could travel all across the globe just by thinking about it? The one that appeared in Return of the Jedi even though he was just two years old when it was originally released? The one that was part of the ensemble in New York, I Love You? So… where is Darth Vader’s Hayden Christensen now?
Hayden was originally discovered at the age of seven when his older sister was shopping for an agent after she landed a role in a Pringles commercial. He coughed for camera in a Triaminic cough syrup ad, and decided to immerse himself in acting. His first acting role was Family Passions, which aired on Canadian television in September 1993. By 1995 he had a few television movies along with his first portrayal in a film John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness as a paperboy.
In 1999 he appeared in Virgin Suicides, based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. In the film he played the role of Jake Conley, which he played opposite the cast of Josh Harnett, Kirsten Dunst and Danny DeVito among others.
Before he graduated, he was offered a part in Higher Ground, a Fox Family Channel series playing a sexually abused and drug-taking teenager Scott Barringer. Rather than continuing his studies to college, Hayden took the main part, something which made his father stop speaking to him for a few days.
He continued the drug taking role into his next film Life as a House (2001) playing opposite Kevin Klein as his son Sam Monroe. In the role he dyed his natural blond hair black and lost 20 pounds to play the Goth who opens the film stoned and wearing eye makeup, practicing autoerotic asphyxiation in a closet. The film shows the emotion of Sam learning of his father’s impending death through illness and the realisation of how important certain things are.
After this, his world was thrust into the saga of Star Wars playing the adult version of Darth Vader – Anakin Skywalker. After going through the audition process of over 1,500 people and passing the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio he played Anakin in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. During Episode III, Hayden asked George Lucas to appear as Darth Vader in the suit, and so one was constructed allowing him to increase his already large height to that of 6ft 6 inches to portray the final scenes of Vader. Both films earnt him the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor.
In 2004, Hayden appeared in the DVD release of Return of the Jedi, using stock footage of the actor, to replace that of actor Sebastian Shaw (who did the original Darth). Hayden stated that he was not made aware of it, something Lucasfilm agreed with.
After Star Wars, Hayden went to try to break away, replacing Jared Leto in the negatively reviewed film Awake (2007) about a man who is awake during a heart surgery, before jumping in Jumper, a film based on the sci-fi book by Steven Gould. The film set some probable ideas for sequels, along with teaming up with Billy Elliot himself Jamie Bell, however nothing actually came through. It was on the set that Hayden met Rachel Bilson, who he has been dating on and off.
Since then he made an appearance in a few films before Christensen sued USA Network over allegations that they stole his idea for the TV show Royal Pains. Albeit his first lawsuit in 2011 was rejected, his second in June 2012 at the Court of Appeals reversed the decision favouring in line with Hayden. Recently Hayden has teamed up with his older brother Tove to launch Glacier Films, with an impressive 11-picture slate to shoot over the next three years. One of their first films will be American Heist, a remake of a Steve McQueen movie which Hayden will star. So we’ll soon have him back, but in the spotlight, who knows?