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PT Hayden Christensen is Misunderstood

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Knuckle Head, Sep 29, 2021.

  1. Knuckle Head

    Knuckle Head Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Sep 28, 2021
    Recently I put together a very in depth video essay, more so than anything that's out there, about Hayden Christensen, Anakin Skywalker and everything that went into that character and I thought I would share that here. I think it will change some people's minds and intrigue fans of his with some previously unknown knowledge. I hope you enjoy!

     
  2. SateleNovelist11

    SateleNovelist11 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 10, 2015
    You did a great job. I agree. I think Christensen is misunderstood, as well. I've been trying to defend him for a few years now on the JCF. Thanks for analyzing his other work. I've only seen him in two of those other films: Life as a House and Jumper.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
  3. Deliveranze

    Deliveranze Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 28, 2015
    Very dope video. Posted it in the pro-prequel thread. Glad ya made an account here for more direct discussion. :D

    I really thought it was interesting to show that Hayden's agent was frustrated with his decision to turn down big roles after SW. I wasn't even aware of that quote. The misconception that he was so bad that Hollywood decided to stop giving him roles is one that plagues the internet discourse surrounding Hayden as an actor.

    Also Nick Gillard and Ian McDiarmid's praise for him is so sweet to see.
     
  4. Subtext Mining

    Subtext Mining Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 27, 2016
    Great video!

    I never had much of an issue against Hayden Christensen as Anakin, but out of curiosity, about five years ago I went through and watched all of his other movies as well as several interviews to get a feel for what he was like; his personality, voice & speech delivery, overall presence, and what he brings to the table and it all came together even more. Yes, he was the perfect choice, he carries over what Anakin needed to be. And I agree about his facial acting, too.

    I would expand a bit more on the dialogue aspect. Alec Guinness also commented on Lucas' dialogue, saying:
    "I didn't think the dialogue was very good but it held me from page to page."
    And
    "It seemed the dialogue was pretty ropey, but I had to go on turning the page. That's an essential, you gotta know what's gonna happen next or what's going to be said next."

    Say what you will about Lucas & co.'s SW dialogue, but it's catchy. It may seem "bad" but it draws you in and sticks with you - just look at the memes it's spawned. It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to and in the way it needs to. It's a space fantasy, not a modern-day Earth documentary.
    Why does it have to be "good" or "bad" dialogue, can't it just be "Star Wars dialogue"? It's comic book-y, operatic, economic, and yes, very stylized in the '30s serial vein.

    Additionally, I'd say the only major differences in writing and delivery between the OT and the PT are in the roles of Luke, Leia and Han, who talk like '70s teens (less so in RotJ). All the other characters talk like they're left over from the PT era.
    Decades from now those three character's deliveries in the OT will seem dated, while the PT will be all together much more timeless.

    It's also my opinion that Luke is more whiney than Anakin.


    Oh, and also, don't forget Jonathan Hales co-wrote Attack of the Clones. Exactly how much is something I wish I knew.


    P.S. Man, I wish Christensen had been in Afterlife with Liam Neeson.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
  5. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 9

    Registered:
    May 18, 2017
    I liked Hayden, esp. In ROTS, but let's not get carried away here. I've given up trying to defend him irl. I think he did a good job.
     
  6. wobbits

    wobbits Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 12, 2017
    You did an awesome job on this video! Loved it!

    I'm a fan who grew up with the OT and I love the PT just as much if not a shade more. I understand your preference regarding TPM starting things off with Anakin being a little older to give Hayden time to grow the role however, I feel as if it would have hurt the emotional aspect of the story if there had not been any scenes, especially the departure from Tatooine, with Shmi. His reluctance to leave her set the tone for the trauma when Anakin has to watch her die in his arms. It's so powerful and one of my absolute favorite scenes that brilliantly showcases Hayden's range in facial acting. The scene is heartbreaking.

    I appreciate the mention regarding Natalie Portman not being able to make the dialog work. It's always been Hayden who got the brunt of the backlash over the romance but I'm definitely not enthusiastic about her performance. She never gave me the impression through her delivery that Padme's feelings for Anakin were at all believable. Portman's career survived due to her connections.

    One of my favorite parts of the video are the snippets of Hayden expressing his understanding and reverence of the character and Anakin/Vader's importance in the story. He appears to have understood the family saga in much the way Dave Filoni recently explained it. I've watched those interviews many times and never once did I get the impression that HC needed to make up his own interpretation in order to get into character. ST fans like to claim that Adam Driver was better in every way, but in Driver's own words, he had to make up his own head canon explanation about Han and Leia that was so far out in left field that I had to ask myself what version of Star Wars he had been watching. (Claimed Han and Leia were religious zealots)

    The comparison videos of Hayden's diction and JEJ were neat. I don't think I have ever seen a Hayden fan video use that before. I also appreciated the Hayden/Leia comparison. Leia was the take charge, aggressive twin and to see the father/daughter resemblance in these sequences cut with Anakin was fun.

    The photos from the recent cons are amazing. He looks great for his age and his smile is infectious. His coming back to Star Wars has been the best news and I cannot wait for the Obi Wan series.
     
  7. Oissan

    Oissan Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Mar 9, 2001
    That sounds rather far-fetched to me. You are comparing two vastly different situations. Darth Vader was an established character that had been around for 20+ year at that time. You knew how he was and how he would be in the future. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, was a completely new character developed during the new movies. There couldn't possibly be an understanding of how the character should be like, because that is exactly what the movies are building towards. Just like the OT build Vader in a specific way.

    There is also a difference between what an actor thinks certain characters are like, and what an actor uses as explanation for why his character may feel a certain way. What a character thinks is true doesn't necessarily have to be the truth. Just like Anakin is deluding himself at the end of ROTS. That doesn't even cover that taking a single line from an actor completely without its context is useless from the get go.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
  8. PadmeFan4Life

    PadmeFan4Life Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 21, 2021
    First off I wanted to say I watched your video and I enjoyed it....BUT I do respectfully have some issues with your analysis. First off I think it was absolutely the right thing to do was to have Anakin start off the age he did in the Phantom Menace. Showing him separated from his mother, and growing up a slave is THE ENTIRE FOUNDATION FOR HIS CHARACTER. I enjoy seeing him as a caring, selfless boy who just wants to help others. In Phantom Menace we see his mother and Padme truly caring about him as a PERSON, not a jedi or a messiah type figure. Does Qui-Gon care about Anakin?....yes he does. Does he care about him as a person, or does he want to free him only because he believes he is the chosen one? In my opinion his care for his care for him is somewhere in between, yes he does think he is a nice person and feels bad for his situation, but he had ulterior motives for saving him. Let's go to Attack of the Clones.....I will defend this til I die, but the dialogue between Anakin and Padme makes perfect sense! Anakin has ZERO experience with women and he genuinely wants to be with Padme....he has had a crush on her for 10 years. When he sees her the dialogue comes across confused and nervous, which is expected. Padme was a nurturer to Anakin even as a child...in Phantom Menace when he was separated from his mother she was the one person who was looking out for him, and she was touched the he selflessly cared about her with hidden agenda. Amidala is a politician, she is used to be people having agenda's when they talk. The dialogue between Anakin and Padme in AOTC comes across tense and suppressed and innocent between both of them. Anakin is the chosen one and Amidala is a senator, by falling in love they have everything to lose! Even Anakin himself acknowledges by falling in love it would destroy them. Now let's get to the part where he loses his mother..that scene hits home because of Phantom Menace. I can feel his pain...at that moment he tells himself NEVER again will he let someone he loves die, and he will not be held back by Obi-Wan or the jedi. By the time Revenge of the Sith comes around and he is having the visions of Padme dying, he tells himself he wont listen to anyone this time around who is in his way to save the person he loves. Palpatine tells him what he wants to hear, of course Anakin wouldn't think rationally, at that point he is hearing what he wants to hear...and he throws away everything to save his world. Overall I would say your video was well done but these were points of rebuttal I had to make.
     
  9. darkspine10

    darkspine10 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 7, 2014
    Started watching this vid, and seeing that Mark Hamill memorised a single unused line of dialogue over the years and that he'd always bring it out in interviews/conventions was hilarious :p

    Did rankle a bit when they pulled out the old 'George was completely uncontrolled during the production of the prequels' line though. It even said that he had no co-writers, despite Jonathan Hales or Carrie Fisher's contributions. It's a myth I wish would stop getting brought up (like the 'saved in the edit' thing, ugh).

    Edit: Also not a big fan of the whole 'we needed a Clone Wars movie' idea. TPM is vital to the trilogy in several fundamental ways, and inserting a movie between AOTC and ROTS would add little that isn't covered in those two movies (much as I love TCW to bits, for different reasons). The war itself is conveyed incredibly well, it gets over an hour and a half of screentime just for itself. Never got the argument that the war was somehow skimmed over.

    I do appreciate the highlighting of Hayden's own descriptions of Anakin's states across the movies.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  10. Dr Silva

    Dr Silva Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Aug 23, 2021
    Watch East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause both James Dean classic films, thats what Lucas was going for that kind of moody performance , hayden did exactly what Lucas wanted the problem was it wasnt the acting style people were used to by 2002 , brando dean, montgomery clift etc those guys were from different era as far as acting from the 1950s.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
  11. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 9

    Registered:
    May 18, 2017
    Are we really comparing Hayden to Brando?
     
  12. Dandelo

    Dandelo SW and Film Music Interview Host star 10 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2014
    dunno, did Hayden need to read from cards off set because he couldn't be bothered learning lines?
     
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  13. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 9

    Registered:
    May 18, 2017
    Hayden made him an offer he can't refuse.
     
  14. Dr Silva

    Dr Silva Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Aug 23, 2021
    lol, no im saying that lucas wanted hayden to play anakin moody like the acting was back in those films.
     
  15. Scoffed-Gherkin

    Scoffed-Gherkin Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Sep 11, 2021
    I think he’s a good actor, not a great one. There are certain occasions where he’s a bit stiff, clunky or wooden, but, especially in Revenge of the Sith, I think he does a good job with the role. (And honestly, Samuel L. Jackson and Natalie Portman both give worse performances than he does, in my opinion.) The big problem is that Attack of the Clones tries portraying him as a Heathcliff-type character…and if you’ve ever read Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is a obsessive psycho who literally strangles puppies! It just makes the character thoroughly unlikable and unsympathetic, and there was always going to be a huge backlash.

    I won’t join the chorus in comparing him to Marlon Brando, but I do think he gets too much crap. Maybe if he had done more roles, there would’ve eventually been some sort of renaissance as has happened with Robert Pattinson recently.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2021
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  16. Darthvader1975

    Darthvader1975 Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    May 2, 2020
    Ill add two points here.

    1 Hayden did a good job. Liked him. Cant wait for Kenobi

    2 Re Dialog.....Ford once said "You can type this ***t but you sure cant say it"
     
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  17. Scoffed-Gherkin

    Scoffed-Gherkin Jedi Padawan star 2

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    Sep 11, 2021
    I’ll say this for Hayden Christensen. He’d probably be a pretty good Norman Bates. I definitely get that vibe from him in the prequels.
     
  18. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2015
    OK, I think we get it! You really hate Anakin, Hayden and most of AOTC. Fine with me, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Funny? Not really. Someone missing and then mourning his mother doesn't make him a psychopath keeping her mummy in the basement and killing young women.
    Have fun keeping on hating. However, you DO know it leads to the Dark Side though? [face_laugh]
     
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  19. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Master star 4

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    May 19, 2020
    You're right. The murdering women and children after-the-fact is what makes him a psychopath.
     
  20. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2015
    But let's not forget that at that point he is no longer supposed to be a hero, if he ever was. Everyone knows he will become a villain with 100% certainty, it was just a matter of time. On Tatooine in AOTC he is already halfway there. So whether you like the sequence or not, it isn't out of character or unexpected for him.
     
  21. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 19, 2020
    You stated...

    So what does that have to do with whether he was a hero or not? I don't understand what your opinion is anymore. I don't even think anyone was comparing Anakin to Norman Bates, just that Hayden's acting would fit the part.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
  22. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2015
    Oh, actually @Scoffed-Gherkin did, saying that Hayden would make an excellent Norman Bates. In fact I think Anthony Perkins did a good job at that already, while Hayden as Anakin wasn't that crappy either. ;)
    OK, since I actually like your posts (we don't always have the same opinion, but who cares?), and I find your opinion to be balanced and not offensive on a personal level - unlike some - I really respect you and will answer your question honestly.
    It's quite simple really. I repeat that I do NOT condone mass murder or punishing the innocent in any way. I don't know who even came up with the idea.
    My main point is, to put it simply, that even newbies know that that innocent slave boy on Tatooine would become evil Darth Vader at some point. So he HAD to do so something bad in order to get there. Otherwise his turn would not have been credible.
    Now how that is done and shown is a matter of opinion. It's obvious that Lucas' way (killing the Tusken and younglings) is not very popular on this forum.
    I think it works well, and I also dare say Hayden did a decent job. All this is in-universe, and my arguments only refer to the saga's storyline itself, and should not be taken out of context into the real world.
    Sure, many may argue that Lucas went too far maybe. I disagree, but respect other points of view. Anakin could have, I don't know, maybe slapped Padmé in the face in an argument instead. Sure, that would have been less drastic. But I feel in Vader's case being very drastic is a good way to explain how he could become the villain we all know from the OT.
    Finally, was Christensen the right choice? Many say he wasn't, while I still think he fit the role perfectly. So in the end it's really just a matter of opinion. If you simply don't buy someone's acting then of course the whole story falls apart. Me, after almost 20 years, am still convinced that Lucas made the right choices, casting as well as story-wise.
     
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  23. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 19, 2020
    I think the overall issue stems from how people talk about Anakin in the OT vs what we actually see of him. The whole point of ROTJ is that this once honorable man is reawakened. But when I watch the PT, the only time I think of Anakin in a movie where he isn't a terrible person is TPM. And since even Lucas himself thinks that we should see the redeemed Vader as Hayden (as he appeared in ROTS, before he is named Darth Vader) then why was he murdering people before that?

    When I see the force ghost in ROTJ, I'm thinking to myself, "That guy already went on a murderous rampage by that point. THAT'S what was re-awakened to save Luke?" As an audience member, I need to see Anakin as a respectable Jedi (even if still a student) so that I can connect with what people are saying about him. The beginning of ROTS doesn't count when he has already done what he's done in AOTC.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
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  24. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Master star 4

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    Oct 30, 2015
    The same argument could be made against Shaw though. Yes, he was "redeemed" as well (a word I don't like by the way, too religious), but appeared as an old guy who had done even more evil since ROTS era Christensen. By the end of ROTS Anakin had killed the Tusken, an armed opponent with powerful Sith fighting skills - Dooku, and then the younglings. But "Shaw" had done much more damage, allowed a whole populated planet to be blown up (probably ALL civilians), regularly choking his officers to death etc. That's why I don't see why a "redeemed" Shaw would make more sense than an equally redeemed Christensen. Sure, Shaw "was there before", but we all know that Lucas likes to make changes in order to bring the movies closer to his vision. It's his story after all, so we have to accept his decisions.
    But I DO get your point and agree. Why not have Anakin's Force ghost appear as the early AOTC version, like right in the first scene? He hadn't killed anyone at that point.
    Technically it would have been easy to achieve. Hayden hadn't aged much between AOTC and ROTS. All they'd have had to do was give him back his Padawan haircut and robes. But for some reason Lucas chose the ROTS appearance. Maybe the actor was engaged in another role and didn't have the time? That Force ghost scene was filmed long after the ROTS main shooting after all I think.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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  25. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 19, 2020
    But we never sees Shaw's face until after he has turned to good. There is a cinematic reason for this; so that when we see his force ghost, we don't connect that face to atrocities.

    And to get back on point, Hayden's acting is fine, I just think Lucas gave the man bad material. I think had Anakin been a respectful young man with a master who sometimes skirts the rules, lost his mother, used the dark side to get revenge while sending the rest of the camp running into the night, it would have been enough. It would set up that Obi-Wan probably should have been more strict with him; less of a friend, more of a mentor. And it would establish that Anakin has a dark streak.

    But Lucas felt like cranking everything in the PT up to 11.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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