Hayden Christensen Thought He’d Lose ‘Star Wars’ Role to Leonardo DiCaprio

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In a galaxy far, far away, the iconic role of Anakin Skywalker hung in the balance. The year was 2002, and George Lucas was casting for “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.” Among the contenders was a relatively unknown actor named Hayden Christensen. But there was a twist: Leonardo DiCaprio, the A-list heartthrob, had also entered the fray.

Christensen, now forever etched in “Star Wars” lore as the conflicted Jedi-turned-Sith Lord, recently revealed his rollercoaster of emotions during the audition process. In an exclusive interview with Empire magazine, he shared the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolded as he vied for the coveted role.

The Unexpected Audition

When whispers circulated that DiCaprio was in talks with Lucasfilm, Christensen’s heart sank. “I had heard that they’d met with Leonardo and a bunch of other actors,” he confessed. The mere thought of competing against the “Titanic” heartthrob seemed like a futile endeavor. “That just confirmed my thought that the role would go to another actor,” Christensen recalled.

The Underdog Triumphs

But fate had other plans. Despite his self-imposed skepticism, Christensen clinched the role of Anakin Skywalker. The news blindsided him. “Through the entire auditioning process, I had told myself, from day one, that I wasn’t going to get the part,” he admitted. “It just wasn’t a possibility. And I think that probably helped me a lot because it freed me up in a lot of ways. So it really came as a surprise to me when I got the part.”

The Backlash and Redemption

Christensen’s journey as Anakin Skywalker was not without its challenges. The prequel trilogy faced its share of criticism, and the actor found himself at the epicenter of fan backlash. “The character was criticized, my performance was criticized, and that part sucked,” he reflected candidly. But he also maintained a unique perspective.

“When ‘Episode I’ came out, there was a lot of excitement that they were making a new ‘Star Wars,’ and it was going to be the backstory of Darth Vader,” Christensen explained. “I watched the film, and I loved it. It was everything I wanted and more. And I didn’t understand the disconnect between the movie that I saw and the negativity in some of the reviews.”

The Suspension of Disbelief

Christensen’s defense was rooted in the essence of the “Star Wars” universe. “In a way, that sort of criticism comes from a certain failure of their own suspension of disbelief,” he asserted. “If you’re gonna go sit in a theater, and the opening scroll starts with, ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,’ that’s setting the stage that anything is possible.”

He continued, “These people don’t need to sound and behave the way that we might expect. And if you’re going to sit down and think that you’re getting something that is of our current zeitgeist, then you’re setting yourself up for something else. You know what I mean?”

The Unexpected Return

Christensen’s journey with “Star Wars” didn’t end there. He reprised his role as Anakin/Darth Vader in recent Disney+ series like “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “Ahsoka.” Returning to the franchise was a bucket-list item he didn’t even know he had.

As for the future, will we see Christensen don the iconic helmet once more? Only time will tell. But for now, let’s celebrate the underdog who defied the odds and became a legend in a galaxy where the Force flows through us all.

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