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Hayden Christensen to Return as Darth Vader — What Happened to the 'Star Wars' Actor through the Years?

Manuela Cardiga
Dec 14, 2020
05:40 A.M.
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Actor Hayden Christensen became a star when he took on the role of Darth Vader in "Star Wars" at the age of 19, now, 20 years later he's coming back.

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Disney has just announced that Hayden Christensen will be returning as Darth Vader in their new series "Obi-Wan Kenobi" joining Ewan McGregor, his costar from the "Star Wars" prequels.

Christensen was "discovered" by George Lucas and after his portrayal of the iconic Dark Side villain met with mixed reviews, the young actor withdrew from Hollywood for five years.

Hayden Christensen inside the "Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run" at Disneyland Park in October 2019 in Anaheim, California | Source: Getty Images

Hayden Christensen inside the "Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run" at Disneyland Park in October 2019 in Anaheim, California | Source: Getty Images

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THE RETURN OF VADER

British actor Ewan McGregor who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels to the original "Star Wars" was enthusiastic about working again with Christensen 15 years after their last movie together, "Revenge of the Sith."

In the prequels, McGregor followed the iconic Sir Alec Guinness into the role of Obi-Wan, the mentor of the aspiring and gifted young Anakin Skywalker, who succumbs to the seduction of the Dark Side.

Hayden Christensen at the premiere of "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith" in 2005 in London | Source: Getty Images

Hayden Christensen at the premiere of "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith" in 2005 in London | Source: Getty Images

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BECOMING DARTH VADER

When George Lucas decided to complete the "Star Wars" saga by making the prequel movies, "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the ClonesMay" and "Revenge of the Sith," he was faced with a particularly difficult challenge.

He had to find actors to give flesh to the most hated villain of all time and show how Anakin Skywalker had gone from being a Jedi Knight to the vicious henchman of the evil Emperor Palpatine.

"Star Wars" made the young actor an international star overnight, but the pressure was more than Christensen could deal with.

Hayden Christensen at the red carpet of the 4th Beijing International Film Festival in 2014 in Beijing, China | Source: Getty Images

Hayden Christensen at the red carpet of the 4th Beijing International Film Festival in 2014 in Beijing, China | Source: Getty Images

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Lucas chose child actor Jake Lloyd to play the nine-year-old Anakin in "The Phantom Menace", and for the older Anakin in the last two films of the sage, he picked an up-and-coming 19-year-old.

Christensen had been acting since the age of 12, and before his role in "Star Wars" had already made his mark in films like Sophia Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides," and in "Life as a House" opposite Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson at a cocktail party in honor of designer Kris Van Assche in September 2009 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson at a cocktail party in honor of designer Kris Van Assche in September 2009 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

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OVERWHELMING STARDOM

"Star Wars" made the young actor an international star overnight, but the pressure was more than Christensen could deal with. After the "Revenge Of The Sith" he decided to take a break from acting and bought himself a farm. He said:

"All these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me. I didn't want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave."

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Christensen chose to step back, reevaluate and relaunch his career. Over the last 10 years he has starred in several action films and romantic comedies, including "Little Italy" with Alyssa Milano, and "First Kill" with Bruce Willis.

Christensen's latest film was the 2019 sci-fi adventure "The Last Man" with iconic Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel. Now a more mature Christensen is coming back full circle and tackling Darth Vader again.

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WELCOMING BRIAR ROSE

In 2007, Christensen agreed to star in a sci-fi time-traveling adventure, "Jumper" and cast as his love interest was actress Rachel Bilson. The romance quickly spilled over into real life and 7 years later the couple welcomed a daughter.

Briar Rose Christensen — Sleeping Beauty's original name — was born on October 29, 2014, but unfortunately, her parent's relationship didn't last. When Briar Rose was just three, Christensen and Bilson announced their separation.

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DOTING DAD

Briar Rose is now six, and just last year in Disneyland's "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" where he showed off his know-how and helped his daughter build a lightsaber.

It has been three years since his break up with Bilson, but Christensen has kept his love life under wraps, although he was spotted at a farmer's market with a mysterious beauty in January 2020.

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