‘Star Wars’ Prequels: Hayden Christensen’s ‘Stoic’ Portrayal of Anakin Skywalker Was Intentional

When the Star Wars prequels were released over 20 years ago, a lot of Star Wars fans had some strong opinions about them.

Star Wars fans, for one reason or another, didn’t like the prequels, and there were so many reasons for that. One of the more common reasons was due to the acting and the dialogue, and fans have ridiculed Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker for a long time.

But, as the years went on, fans started to reevaluate the prequels, and now, a lot of Star Wars fans actually love them. Indeed, nowadays, Star Wars fans appreciate Hayden Christensen for what he’s done for Star Wars, and they don’t blame him for anything anymore.

Why Star Wars fans didn’t like the prequels at the time

Hayden Christensen
Hayden Christensen | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

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Christensen’s Star Wars career didn’t get off on a good start. Jake Lloyd played Anakin when he was a kid, and Christensen took over the role as a teenage Anakin in Attack of the Clones. While many Star Wars fans enjoyed some aspects of The Phantom Menace, few could say the same about Attack of the Clones

In Attack of the Clones, Christensen uttered one of the most parodied phrases in all of Star Wars. While on a date with Padme, Anakin said, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere.” 

Very few fans liked that piece of dialogue, and Christensen’s performance of that line didn’t help, either. Christensen’s performance did change for the better in Revenge of the Sith, but by then, it was too late. The stilted way that he played Anakin became something fans hated about the prequels. 

People love the prequels now

But of course, the Star Wars fandom’s hatred for the prequels mellowed out with time. Nowadays, the prequels are more appreciated than they were when they were released. Fans enjoy the prequels for different reasons, but many simply understand that, while they were flawed, they were good stories at their core.

An example of that is found in Revenge of the Sith. In one of the most dramatic and arguably iconic moments in the entire franchise, Anakin fights Obi-Wan Kenobi on a lava planet while an epic soundtrack plays in the background. While the visuals and the lightsaber duel were cool, what was even better was the acting.

A lot of fans loved the intense anger and emotion that Christensen put into his character when he said his lines during this scene.

And of course, as details about what happened behind the scenes started circulating, fans stopped blaming Christensen for anything whatsoever.

Hayden Christensen’s performance was intentional

When fans saw that “I don’t like sand” scene, many fans thought that it was just bad acting. They blamed Christensen for how he said those lines, and they blamed George Lucas for writing those lines in the first place. However, as Star Wars fans on Reddit discussed, that blame was misplaced.

According to Star Wars fans, Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin was intentional, and it was Lucas who told him to play Anakin like that. Fans said that, according to the behind the scenes featurettes, Christensen would put “too much emotion” into his lines, and Lucas didn’t want that for the movie. Instead, Lucas wanted Anakin to be more “stoic.” 

Lucas reasoned that Anakin, who was a troubled kid, would be stoic because he was dealing with his personal issues internally, according to fans. But of course, as many Star Wars fans now understand, that choice by Lucas was a mistake, and as such, Christensen can’t be blamed for it. Instead, many Star Wars fans are choosing to blame Lucas for everything related to Anakin.