It has been 15 years since Hayden Christensen first appeared on-screen as Anakin Skywalker in 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and y’all are still giving him shit about it. It’s time to get over yourselves and accept that Christensen really wasn’t that bad as Anakin.
There were a lot of things that lent themselves toward people complaining about Christensen as Anakin. He was young and inexperienced, so his acting wasn’t up to par with the rest of his big-name Star Wars compatriots, Anakin is just a bad character in general, and George Lucas’s dialogue is infamously horrible. But none of that is worth Christensen having been so hated by Star Wars fans that he spent a solid decade not attending Star Wars Celebration. The only character more widely disliked is probably Jar Jar Binks, and that’s really saying something.
It’s time to leave Hayden Christensen alone. He has suffered long enough. Here are six reasons why he wasn’t that bad.
6. Sand Really Does Suck, Okay?
Since its beginning, the Star Wars franchise has been known for tongue-twisting dialogue that’s almost hilariously in-universe. It’s partly what’s made the fandom so passionate about the series since the beginning in 1977, but it’s also spawned years of the actors mocking Lucas for his writing. Lucas’s prequel trilogy added yet another layer of bad dialogue in that most Star Wars fans will be the first to admit that the prequel trilogy dialogue was just really bad. Christensen took the brunt of the blame, but it’s really not his fault.
Plus, the guy’s a really good sport about it now, so leave him alone.
5. He was 19 in Attack of the Clones
Yes, there is a myriad of talented, unrealistically amazing child actors out there in the world, but the average 19-year-old can barely make a grilled cheese without burning it, let alone carry the weight of an entire generation-spanning franchise on their backs.
Christensen was playing a 20-year-old Anakin Skywalker at 19 with the world watching, standing next to the likes of Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, and Ian McDiarmid. Up until being cast in Attack of the Clones, Christensen had been playing one-off roles in various television shows and soap operas. His experience was minimal, and most people will tell you that he got better over time — his acting in Revenge of the Sith and later roles was, objectively, much better. Everyone please chill.
4. Would You Really Have Rather Liked Future Darth Vader?
Anakin Skywalker was never meant to be a sympathetic character. At least, not really. If anything, Christensen and his mini-Anakin predecessor, Jake Lloyd, made Anakin sympathetic because they had really good sad puppy dog faces. Anakin was written as a somber, disastrously unlikable character from the beginning. Everyone already knew he would be going to the Dark side and transition into Darth Vader, so why waste the effort in ever making anyone like him? On some level, you should probably thank Christensen if you’re that angry about it.
3. Hayden’s Got Mad Lightsaber Skills
After months of training for both films, Christensen was undoubtedly talented with a lightsaber. He did most of his own stunts, and the coordinators and trainers on set never had anything mildly underhanded to say about him. So, that’s probably the benefit of casting a 19-year-old. Think about that the next time you’re getting ready to slander the Chosen One.
2. George Lucas Is the One Who Deserves Your Shit
If you’re still insisting on being mad about this, there’s really only one person to blame. George Lucas is the one who created the character, wrote the dialogue, and cast a 19-year-old kid with little experience as the pivotal role in his franchise. Lucas is the one who deserves your shit.
1. His Eyes Pierce My Soul
Seriously, take a moment to gaze into them. That’s all.