Why Hayden Christensen Walked From Hollywood

The L.A. Times posted an article on December 29 (but I didn’t know about it until today, of course) about what happens to young stars when they hit it big with a franchise flick. Some of the article talks about the likes of Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, and Chris Pratt but for your convenience, I’ve posted below the stuff about Hayden Christensen.

That was him once — on your soda cup, at your newsstand, stuck on the side of your bus.

At 19, Hayden Christensen was still baby faced when he was handpicked by George Lucas to lead the new “Star Wars” prequels. The Canadian teen had never set foot on a major film set before shooting “Episode II” in 2002. Everyone, including Lucas, told him that playing Anakin Skywalker would change his life.

Still, Christensen found himself unprepared for sudden fame. He felt undeserving, as if he hadn’t earned his acclaim in any meaningful way. So even though he had an acclaimed starring role in the 2003 plagiarism drama “Shattered Glass” and appeared sporadically in other films, after the release of “Episode III” in 2005, the actor bought some farmland and largely retreated from Hollywood.

“I guess I felt like I had this great thing in ‘Star Wars’ that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me,” the actor said this fall, promoting his first movie in five years, a faith-based drama called “90 Minutes in Heaven.” “I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave.”

It’s hard to imagine Daisy Ridley or John Boyega, the 23-year-old stars of “The Force Awakens,” someday revealing similar inner turmoil. Like Christensen, each of the British actors was largely anonymous before being cast by J.J. Abrams last year. Ridley didn’t even have a page of credits on IMDb. But both seem to be embracing their newfound fame.

Since the “Star Wars” promotional machine began churning in April at Disney’s fan event Star Wars Celebration, the two former unknowns have been virtually everywhere. Ridley landed on the covers of Elle and Glamour UK, even though readers had yet to see her on the big screen. She and Boyega appeared in a “Saturday Night Live” skit spoofing the film’s audition process.

Christensen, meanwhile, still considers himself lucky to have been part of a franchise with such global impact — even though it overwhelmed him at the time. After years on his Canadian farm, he’s just now finding his footing back in Hollywood at age 34.

“You can’t take years off and not have it affect your career,” he said. “But I don’t know — in a weird, sort of destructive way, there was something appealing about that to me. There was something in the back of my head that was like, ‘If this time away is gonna be damaging to my career, then so be it. If I can come back afterward and claw my way back in, then maybe I’ll feel like I earned it.'”

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15 Responses to “Why Hayden Christensen Walked From Hollywood”

  1. susanbowes Says:

    I saw this article posted on FB too, but they got it all wrong. Hayden never “walked away” from Hollywood at all. He just felt he didn’t deserve all the fame from his role as Anakin at the time. (that’s the only thing the article did get right) Hayden still has a production company with his brother based in Hollywood. He has an apartment in Hollywood that he shares with Rachel Bilson when in California. AND Hayden still makes movies and has ever since his role as Anakin. (Awake, Takers, Virgin Territories, Vanishing on 7th Street, Shattered Glass, Jumper, etc, etc, etc…)

    The main reason Hayden doesn’t stay in Hollywood all the time is because he prefers to stay in Canada with his parents… far away from all the hype! (That’s something I give him a lot of credit for, unlike Pitt and all the other “superstars” who think their poop doesn’t stink.) He’s since brought his own farm in Canada where he and Rach spend a lot of time when not working, especially since having their child, Briar Rose.

    I don’t know where or why this article was published now. Maybe because TFA came out and due to the rumors that Hayden may return to future SW movies. In any case, this article tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill in my opinion. Talk about not fact checking! (just like Den’s role in Shattered Glass) Great movie, btw. 🙂

    • roxam91 Says:

      Shattered Glass is indeed great. I thought Hayden did a terrific job in it. It’s really unfortunate this had to happen to him… though it was a bit inevitable given how Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill faded into obscurity after Star Wars (though to a lesser extent for Hamill, who has had a rather successful voice acting career).

    • lazypadawan Says:

      But he didn’t have anything released for around five years after “Takers.” I remember when he left his agency and the former agent grumbled that he’d turned down shots at several roles to spend more time in Canada. This girl who’d run the best-known Hayden fan/news site (not Barbara) got upset with him for doing that and shut down the site.

      They didn’t mention his production company or many of his more recent flicks like “American Heist” and “Outcast,” but they’re smaller or foreign films, not a big blockbuster, Oscar bait, or an Amy Schumer comedy.

      • jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

        Thora Birch, as a young actress, was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA award. Hollywood loved her. However, I don’t think she really liked acting and apparently she started rejecting offers and stopped going out for roles. The industry hates that, and she was blacklisted for many years.

        I think Hayden’s situation was a little different. I think the good roles were starting to dry up for him when he left. I just think it’s hard to break back in when you’ve been MIA for a period of time.

      • susanbowes Says:

        It’s true that Hayden did take time off, but it wasn’t right after Revenge like the article stated.

        I don’t know what fan site you’re talking about, but if it’s Jen’s Desiringhayden.com – she closed that site years ago and not because of Den taking time off. It was because she couldn’t afford to keep the site open anymore. She’d even posted for someone to take the site over for her. I know that for a fact because Jen and I corresponded through emails.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Ah, okay.

  2. susanbowes Says:

    AND…

    Hayden not stepping foot on a film set is wrong too. He’d guest starred on several Canadian, as well as American TV shows when young such as Goosebumps and others. He also co-starred in the movie “Purple Haze” for which he received acclaim from critics. He also starred in a Canadian TV show called Higher Ground which became very popular at the time. In fact, Hayden was going to start filming the second season of Higher Ground when he was notified that he’d won the role of Anakin/Vader. The show allowed him to take time off in order to film AOTC. He was the star of the show, after all. 🙂

  3. starwarsanon Says:

    Really really interesting, thanks for sharing.

  4. Terrorking Says:

    Look, I’m just saying: https://cynicscapeblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/acts-of-terrorism-nothing-is-wrong-with-the-prequels/

    • susanbowes Says:

      Love the article! I upholds my “version” of what happened in the saga, and why, but what has any of that have to do with Hayden supposedly “quitting” Hollywood after making Revenge? – which is completely false. The time span between his movies is because Hayden was able to pick and chose the roles he wanted to play. However, these reports are trying to say that Hayden didn’t work at all for a long spell after his role as Anakin because he felt he didn’t deserve the fame which he did say, but if you check IMBD it lists Hayden’s movies and he clearly was working steadily after making SW. However, he did take a long break in 2011, but why not? He’d been working almost non-stop since Revenge was made and if able to afford such a long vacation – why the heck not? Whoever is writing these articles clearly didn’t check the facts and I can only assume the time frame they’re referring to is when Hayden took the break in 2011.

  5. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    I think the article failed to mention that Hayden and his brother were involved in a lawsuit regarding the USA Channel series, “ROYAL PAINS” for a few years.

    • susanbowes Says:

      True. USA did in fact steal the idea from them. I’m positive of that! Hayden’s grandmother has a summer home on the South Shore of Long Island where I live. I live on the North Shore though so I’m not positive exactly what town she lives in. Pretty sure she lives in the Hamptons where the show is based. I know for a fact that both Hayden and Tove have visited their grandmother on more than one occasion while she was on the island and that’s got to be where they got the idea for their show. I heard they finally had a judge overturn the first decision saying they didn’t come up with the idea and that’s why USA won that case. Haven’t heard anything else about it though.

  6. Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

    Not sure if this is no the topic of where he is currently, but I have hopes for him to voice the second age/era of a character in a film I hope to make (#1 if you guessed, it goes by the Bambi/Lion KIng story structure, and it’s #2 based off a Bible story)

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