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Star Wars has a long, illustrious history with its many films and spin-offs. Some have been more well-received than others, but overall they’ve gone down as some pretty iconic pieces of cinema. So it would make sense that Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, as a finale for the current saga, would send off the series by bringing back familiar faces

It was already reported that Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian, will be back for Episode IX. Still, a new rumor suggests that a more recent actor will reprise his role and help defeat Darth Sidious. And he doesn’t like sand very much. 

Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid speaking on a panel.
Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid attend the Star Wars Celebration, 2017 | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

There are theories below, but there’s no telling if they’re real, so warning that there are potential spoilers ahead.

Has it been confirmed that Anakin will be back?

There have been rumors and hope that Hayden Christensen would make a return to the Star Wars franchise for a while, reprising his role as Anakin Skywalker. While he had a rough time with the fandom at the time the prequels came out, he’s since been a favorite. Plus, a new rumor hints that pre-Darth Vader Ani might help Rey defeat the dark Sith Lord once and for all. 

We Got This Covered is stoking the flames of this rumor by saying a source of their’s seemed to confirm Christensen will be back as Anakin in The Rise of Skywalker. If this is true, it’s not clear if it’ll be a massive role or of a blink-and-you-might-miss-it cameo. Ewan McGregor came back for The Force Awakens but only as a voice role during Rey’s lightsaber vision. If Anakin comes back, will it be as a Force Ghost like in the edited version of Return of The Jedi

Theory on how Anakin will come back

Inverse reported on a leak/rumor from Jason Ward, editor for the site Making Star Wars. The leak said that Rey would be able to defeat Palpatine with the help of generations of past Jedi through Force Ghost form. That includes Luke, Leia, and Anakin (Christensen). 

There’s another part to this theory from Reddit user u/thebrywalker that hinges on Palpatine using a host body to carry out his plans. In Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader throws Darth Sidious down a shoot and kills him in front of Luke, Sidious didn’t survive, but his Force Ghost, of course, did. That spirit is taking over an acolyte’s body, and the only way to kill Palpatine once and for all is to have Rey and Kylo Ren kill the physical body, and Anakin and Luke kill the Force Ghost part of him. This type of death will rid the Star Wars universe of Palpatine once and for all, putting a final ending on this saga. 

Anakin Skywalker’s return has been a desire for a while

This isn’t the only time fans have been calling for a return of the sand-hating Skywalker that started it all. Rumors of Christensen’s return to the role have been around, hitting a high in September when Christensen and Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) visited a children’s hospital together. Not long after, a panel they were supposed to do was canceled, leading some to believe it was a way for Disney to stop any Anakin rumors before they started. Of course, it was already too late for that.


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Hayden Christensen’s redemption with ‘Star Wars’ fans

Christensen, unfortunately, wasn’t welcomed with open arms at the time the prequels premiered in the early 2000s. Some loud “fans” were unhappy with Episodes I – III, but the younger generation that appreciates these movies more has grown into the new voices of the fandom.

This fan fervor around Christensen was easily on display at the Star Wars Celebration in 2017, which had him as a guest. With a few quipping remarks on sand as well as sold-out autograph sessions, the fans seemed to love his presence. 

An Anakin Skywalker cameo in Episode IX would not only be an excellent cameo for the fans, but it would be a proper send-off to the current Star Wars saga.