Hayden Christensen

Hayden Christensen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on 19 April 1981. He started his career at the age of 13 starring in several TV dramas. His biggest break saw him playing a teenager who turned to drugs after being sexually molested by his step-mom in
Higher Ground. On 12 May 2000 it was officially announced that Christensen would be the face of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. We caught up with him as Revenge of the Sith was due to be released on DVD...

Darren Rea: Your live has been transformed over the last five years. How you feel when you think about what has happened to you and your career since May 2000?

Hayden Christensen: It's so difficult to really have any sort of retrospective perspective. It has been such a surreal experience that I still really have a hard time grasping the effect that this film and George Lucas has had on my life.

DR: Playing such an iconic character must have been a bit daunting. Did you feel much pressure knowing that you were playing such a well known role?

HC: Yeah sure it's very apparent but to be honest the only pressure that I have really focused on was the pressure to please George [Lucas]. As much as I felt that I wanted to keep the fans happy I was so indebted to George when he offered me the role that my biggest concern was making sure that he was happy with the work. And that was really where I kept my focus. If you try to worry about the larger population at hand... you'd drive yourself crazy.

DR: You and Ewan McGregor have the fight to end all fights in this film. Did you have to do a lot of preparation for that?

HC: Yeah, there is the fight to end all fights and it is as epic as a light saber fight has ever been. It's grander in its duration and the length of geography covered and the diversity of geography covered. The fighting styles are more involved.

It was a good three months of preparation, trying to learn the choreography for the fight. That was done with Nick Gillard. It took about three or four days to film.

It was the most demanding film that I've done. The film is pretty much an action sequence, from beginning to end. So aside from the light saber fights it was very physically demanding. But I was up for the task.

They wanted me to bulk up for the part, so I was in the best shape of my life. I worked out with a trainer in Sydney for the three months that I was getting ready for the light saber fights. I was on a strict diet, eating six meals a day and on every protein, weight gain supplement that man has created. I could eat anything, it was just a matter of trying to consume as many calories as possible because I was working out twice a day with my trainer for five or six hours every day. I was constantly exerting myself so it was never a concern that I shouldn't eat such and such a type of food. It was definitely a concerted effort.

I put on 25 pounds. I went from 160 pounds to 185 pounds. Now I have lost it all. I come from a background of always wanting to put on weight. I played ice hockey growing up and I was the smallest kid in the league. I always wanted to be bigger.

DR: Was it difficult to lose the weight? How did you mange it?

HC: I stopped working out. As soon as I stopped my diet and the training regiment I just lost it all. It didn't take an effort. It's not great though because I was in the best shape of my life back then. I wish I could get back to that. I guess what I have to do is go back to the gym.

DR: Did you get hurt at all during filming?

HC: I hurt my knee pretty badly probably about two weeks before we ended filming. It was during a fight sequence that actually didn't involve anyone but me. I did this jump into the air and landed on my foot a little funny and ended up straining my ACL in my knee. I had to subsequently get cortisone shots in my knee. It was very painful. They had to give me a couple of days off work so that I could let it heal a little bit. There haven't really been any lasting effects. I don't know... they never really heal the same. But there's nothing serious.

DR: One of the things that the Star Wars franchise is famous for is the secrecy that has surrounded each of the last three episodes while principal photography is ongoing. What was that like?

HC: All the scripts are encoded. Apparently they are both genetically encoded, with both George and Rick the producer's, DNA, [laughs].

No, they are all numbered and they only give out so many scripts. They are all on photo copy proof paper. But it is all done more with an air of trust.

Q: Your character evolves over the two movies from a cocky teenager, to an out and out villain. What was it like going through that transition as an actor?

A: That was what I had been waiting for. Anakin more or less makes a deal with the Devil and for the last act of the film Anakin is Darth Vader and he roams like the Grim Reaper. That was the side of Anakin that I was always very excited about. It was really nice because it also justified a lot of the sensibilities relating to Anakin that I had a difficult time with. Like his whining quality that is well justified because it stems from a frustration that he is so consumed by.

DR: What was it like when you finally got to wear the Vader mask and adopt that famous asthmatic voice?

A: It really was a dream character in every conceivable sense, aside from the fact that this is one of the most iconic characters in cinema history, it was a chance to play a character who undergoes such an amazing transformation. It's such a rarity as an actor to come across this. To play someone who goes from what we know in Episode 1 to epitomising all that is evil. So it was a lot of fun.

Q: You were great in Shattered Glass, which was another great character to play because he was another Darth Vader?

A: There is something about playing a character that has an innate duality where you have to be one thing and present something else. That is something that I find fascinating and that was a chance to really to explore that in a more intimate way in a more intimate film.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Liz Silverstone at DSA

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is released on DVD from 20th Century Fox on the 31 October 2005

Order this DVD for £14.99 (RRP: £24.99) by clicking here

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