He played Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and will be appearing as Darth Vader in the new series Obi-Wan Kenobi – but who is the real Hayden Christensen?
He’s 40 years old today. Hayden Christensen has already racked up an impressive list of credits, starting with a role as Skip McDeere in the 1993 television series Family Passions. He played a series of supporting roles, crossing back and forth between television and film. It wasn’t until 2000 that he started getting lead roles, though – first Scott Barringer, one of the central characters in the 2000 TV series Higher Ground, then landing a lead role as Sam Munroe in the motion picture Life as a House in 2001 opposite Kevin Kline.
It was winning his role in 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, though, that would change his life forever. Playing the all-grown-up version of Anakin Skywalker, he began his character’s story arc from being a troubled young Jedi to becoming the infamous Darth Vader, the most powerful force for evil next to Emperor Palpatine himself.
Hayden Christensen was born April 19, 1981 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His parents, Alie and David Christensen, are in the communications business. He is of Danish (father) and Swedish and Italian (mother) descent. Hayden grew up in Markham, Ontario, with siblings Kaylen, Hejsa, and Tove. Hayden set out to become an actor when a chance encounter at the age of eight placed him in his first commercial, for Pringles. When he was thirteen, he had starring roles in several dramatic television series.
His biggest break was a major part in the Fox Family Network’s Higher Ground (2000). On the series, Hayden showed off his acting talent as a teen who was sexually molested by his stepmother, and turns to drugs in despair. Later, he appeared in the television movie Trapped in a Purple Haze (2000), where he co-starred with his friend Jonathan Jackson. Hayden also had a role in the film The Virgin Suicides (1999).
On May 12, 2000, it was announced that Christensen would star as Anakin Skywalker in the prequels Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). The star was chosen by director George Lucas because he felt that Hayden had raw talent and good chemistry with actress Natalie Portman. Lucas stunned the movie world by picking the then-unknown actor after he had turned down such big names as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonathan Jackson, as well as 400 other candidates.
Hayden Christensen Is the third actor to play Anakin Skywalker, and is the only who has played the non-Vader Anakin more than once. Sebastian Shaw played the role only in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), and had died by the time the prequels were made. Jake Lloyd played Anakin in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). Hayden played the young adult Anakin in both Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Since his Star Wars days, Hayden has headlined several action films, including Jumper (2008) and Takers (2010). Those days are not over yet, though – he returns to the Star Wars universe as Darth Vader in the new Disney Plus series Obi-Wan Kenobi. There is no word yet on whether he will spend the entire time beneath the infamous black helmet or not.
When not working, he enjoys spending quality time with his family (such as big brother Tove), hanging out with his friends, and exploring other hobbies such as the blues, jazz and piano.
Hayden was in a relationship with actress Rachel Bilson from 2007 to 2017. The two have a child, born in 2014.
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