Hayden Christensen to return as Darth Vader in Disney+ series


Most people have very definite feelings about the different Star Wars installments. Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker in the franchise prequels 1-3. Those prequels were not well received, overall. Some actors, like Ewan McGregor and Samuel L Jackson, were forgiven for their involvement. Others, like Hayden, were not. I don’t know if it was deserved but he was side-by-side with Jar Jar Binks for persona non-grata in Stars Wars fandom for years. Fortunately, time heals most wounds and when Hayden showed up at the Star Wars Celebration panel in 2017, he was met with huge applause. And then he signed a jar of sand and sealed his reinstatement as a good guy. And it paid off. First, it was announced that he would return as Anakin in McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi project. And now, it’s just been announced that he will reprise the role again in Ahsoka, the Rosario Dawson led spinoff coming out of The Mandalorian on Disney+.

Hayden Christensen is sticking around on the Dark Side for a little longer.

The Golden Globe nominee, 40, is reprising his role as Darth Vader (a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker) in the Star Wars franchise once again, having joined the upcoming Disney+ series spinoff Ahsoka, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ahsoka stars Rosario Dawson as the eponymous surviving Jedi Knight and will begin filming in early 2022. She previously originated the live-action role in season 2 of The Mandalorian.

Taking place five years after the events of 1983’s Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, in which Darth Vader dies, it’s currently unclear how Christensen will factor into the series. Since Ahsoka was once Anakin’s Padawan apprentice, it’s possible that he’ll return in the form of a Force ghost.

[From People]

If there are going to be spinoffs from spinoffs I’m going to need a flow chart to keep up with this world. I find it odd that they’re announcing Hayden’s involvement if he’s going to be a ghost or manifestation. That’s usually the kind of thing they keep secret for the film. I guess if he’s already in the Obi-Wan thing, the wow factor is worn off? I am way too far out of the loop to figure out how Anakin will factor into the new series. It’s obviously a breadcrumb that some uber fans will pick up on. Disney knows what it’s doing when it puts out these announcements.

The reason Hayden was shunned by the Star Wars community was in part because they did not like the story of Anakin, but mainly because they didn’t like Hayden’s performance specifically. Which, I get, but they really crapped on him as if he’d committed a crime. Granted, he did not conduct his personal life well, but I’m not sure he deserved quite the reaction he got for turning in a dud performance as Anakin. From what little I did see, Natalie Portman wasn’t doing her best work either. So I was pleased to see fans welcome Hayden back into the fold. But fans never forget, and their loyalty should never be tested. They did not respond well when Hayden’s Obi-Wan return was announced. I don’t think adding more Anakin revivals to his docket is advised. It would be great if he could redeem his whole run as Anakin, but I doubt that’s happening. Ultimately, the problem is also Anakin himself. Who cares about Anakin? Darth is the side of that personality we’re all waiting for anyway.

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45 Responses to “Hayden Christensen to return as Darth Vader in Disney+ series”

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  1. Bryn says:

    Its funny that everyone complains about the acting but the actors are known for being good in lots of other work. It was George Lucas’ crappy dialogue and direction. I’ve seen Hayden in other things and he’s pretty good.

    • Eurydice says:

      Actors can be great, but not so good in a particular genre. My first reaction to Ewan McGregor’s performance was that his eyes were always looking at the wrong place. I remember reading something about the Stargate SG-1 cast, that they were the best at “acting to nothing” – working with CGI and reacting to things that weren’t actually there. But I totally agree about Lucas’ direction and dialogue.

    • MF1 says:

      The prequel trilogy has some of the *worst* writing and directing I’ve ever seen. That’s on Lucas, not Hayden.

    • molly says:

      See also: Portman, Natalie.

    • The Recluse says:

      The prequel trilogy was a mess and there were so many narrative choices that could have been made instead, including streamlining the plot. Part of what made the original trilogy worked was that it wasn’t all over the place. It followed the chief characters and wasn’t overly enamored with all the technical tricks that were available.
      For starters, they could have started with Anakin as a young man instead of a little boy.

    • SKF says:

      I’ve always thought this. All of the cast were bad in those movies.

      Lucas was so wound up in new technologies and green screen that he forgot to ground them in what matters most: story and characters we connect with. A lot of it was fairly new technology at the time (eg: a set that is entirely green not just a few patches and with CGI characters to act with), and he left his actors to just figure it out for themselves while he concentrated on technical elements.

      Also, the script was really really bad with clunky dialogue and cheesy directions. Natalie was wooden, Hayden was overwrought.

      I will NEVER forget the hysterical laughter in the cinema when they had their romantic scenes where they run through fields together and he dreams of his mother (everyone in my screening seemed to think that was weird as it seemed like a wet dream then he said it was about his mother – obviously it was supposed to be a nightmare; but god it was bad! Queue big laughs in what’s supposed to be an emotional moment).

      Even incredibly experienced actors were sub-par. The blame sits with Lucas.

      Hayden has been good in other roles. Maybe with decent writing and direction he can also redeem himself in this role.

      Mind you, I do think that ONE of the issues was that he had quite a whiny pitch as Anakin and people grew up on Darth Vader with James Earl Jones’ deep voice. It kind of ruined the supervillain ethos. Perhaps he could pitch his voice a bit lower for this for starters? LOL.

  2. Digital Unicorn says:

    I like him as an actor and yeah he got too much crap from the fanboys, crap that should have been directed at Lucas. The SW fandom has always been toxic AF with actors baring the brunt of it.

    I think they have released his involvement as they want the big surprise to be who is playing Thrawn!!!

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      They’re going to mess up Thrawn terribly.

      I loved the original trilogy and read most of the books. You do need a flow chart for all those damn books. And I still found HC’s role as Anakin uninspired. The directing was very awful as well, but I have yet to see HC act decently in anything else.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        Depends on who they can get – the toxic fanboys want a big name, have Benedict Cumberbatch and a few other big names put around but I think it will be someone who isn’t as well known as him and Fassbender. There is also a rumour that Lars Mikklesen is being considered but who knows if he is even interested.

        Thrawn is an interesting character and to do him justice you need an actor who can chew the scenery.

        TBH I’d love the see the 2 books about him and the Chiss Ascendency made for the small screen.

    • Millenial says:

      Jake Lloyd has talked about how much the fandom criticism hurt him as a kid (he played Anakin as a child in the first movie). Toxic fandom, indeed.

  3. Becks1 says:

    Eh, I don’ t know, I’ll have to wait and see how the actual series turns out.

    One of the issues with HC is that he played Anakin as an angsty teenager who turned to the Dark Side to get revenge on….his Jedi-masters (aka his parents.) I get that they wanted him young (so he could be manipulated) and that they used the love story to show that he was weak and open to the dark side, but…….it still fell really flat.

    To be honest though I do think the idea of prequels can be really tricky, especially when you have such a solid end point where you need to go – we needed Anakin to be Darth Vader, we needed him to be evil, we needed him to be the kind of person who was so bad that they had to hide his children from him, etc. And its kind of hard to show that in three movies, especially when the first one starts out with him as an innocent, cute child. And they had to force the love story between Anakin and the queen because she has to be at least pregnant by the time he becomes Darth.

    That said – the first one is REALLY bad, and Hayden isn’t in that, so it can’t all be blamed on him.

    • manda says:

      He and Natalie Portman had zero chemistry, and he just came off as a whiney brat. But also, George Lucas did not give good material or direction. I do have to say, I don’t like HC, and his later work (I watched shattered glass and this movie where he can like zap himself to various locations) really didn’t redeem him

      • goofpuff says:

        oh yeah the acting was god awful in those movies. Chris and Natalie have terrible performances on top of it being badly written and directed. Padme’s death was so idiotic and could have been done better.

      • Becks1 says:

        ZERO CHEMISTRY. It was so awkward. and yeah she and Chris didn’t have any in Thor, its one of the reasons I don’t like the first two Thor movies, I just don’t buy that they are totally in love etc etc.

      • manda says:

        I really like Darcy from the first two Thor movies, and so I was psyched to see her in wandavision!

  4. Still_Sarah says:

    @ Bryan : in the 1st Star Wars movie ever made, Harrison Ford threatened to tie George Lucas up and make him repeat the dialogue he had written – read Harrison’s lines.

    • Becks1 says:

      Some of the dialogue in the original trilogy is SO bad. The appeal of those movies was never the well written dialogue, LOL.

  5. damejudi says:

    Watch Christensen in Shattered Glass. His performance is stunningly good.

    Agree that the awful dialogue (and to some extent bad story construction) should get much more of the blame.

    • smcollins says:

      Yes, great film! And Life As a House is another great performance of his (if you’re going to go toe to toe with Kevin Kline, not to mention Kristen Scott Thomas, you better bring your A game, and he definitely did).

  6. Chill says:

    Please! The story was so bad. How could Hayden improve the writing? I say this every time. Obi was a terrible teacher and mentor to Anakin. He failed Anakin. Obi did not take the time to understand his student. He phoned his mentoring in rather than look closely and give his student what he needed to become a better man and subdue his fears. Anakin was failed by the authorities. They knew how important he was and yet they were poor teachers. The writing of the story was BAD.

    • BountyHunter says:

      I never thought about it that way before, but you’re right. His mentors did fail him.

      Maybe that’s why he became what he did.

  7. Esmerelda says:

    I re evaluated the prequels – which I hated at the time – when I saw the new sequel trilogy. Considering how bad the new ones are, the prequels managed to expand the universe, give us new characters (Qui-Gon, Shmi, Mace Windu, Dooku) and cool space settings. Could be worse.
    Anakin was written poorly, and HC did not have the experience/talent to turn a quite silly character arc into something more. But I’m sure he tried his best.
    There are soooo many Star Wars projects now, they’re almost irrelevant… I’m an old school fan, and I just don’t care anymore, the sequels killed my love for this pop culture piece. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
    That said, if they’ll ever make a Mace Windu movie, I’m in.

    • manda says:

      It seemed really short-sighted to kill off darth maul right away. The prequels were missed opportunities. I have only watched a few of the most recent. I think that I am done with both star wars and avengers movies, at least for a while

  8. Ncboudicca says:

    HC isn’t my favorite actor, but this entire Star Wars fandom has been held hostage by Gen X males in the same way this country now is – and I say that as a Gen X woman. Toxic 50 year-old white men who run around screaming that this, that, or the other has “Ruined their childhoods” and making outrageous statements about Kathleen Kennedy. Get into some of those Twitter profiles and see where the Venn diagrams of MAGA and Star Wars overlap.

    • Case says:

      Thank you for saying this. The most toxic part of the fandom are a bunch of far-right idiots. They run in the exact same circles and shouldn’t be looked to as the voice of all Star Wars fans. It’s so embarrassing.

    • goofpuff says:

      Agreed! They just love to hate. it’s ok to disagree but they take it to the next toxic level.

  9. Abby says:

    I’m not a Star Wars fan. My husband introduced my kids to the movies over the pandemic. The only ones I’d seen were the first two of the newer ones – the ones Hayden is in. I always thought he was so handsome and recalled loving Natalie Portman; but was never particularly interested in the movies as a THING.

    When I watched them again, I realized the earlier filmed ones are kind of cheesy and the ones that came out in the aughts are….just bad dialogue, wooden acting. Hayden and Natalie in particular. It made me cringe. Again I like them both as actors but not in this series at all.

    I do like the newest Star Wars movies so maybe there’s hope for me 😆

    So I’m indifferent on him coming back. Id probably watch him in other movies/shows though.

  10. Zoochy says:

    I mistook him for Jason Segel in the first pic

  11. Jenny says:

    He was terrible in the Star Wars movies. I feel
    bad for him, no one deserves that level of vitriol, but he clearly was miscast and it did ruin the movies. Natalie Portman has zero charisma with anyone (I’m looking at Thor specifically. How can you not have charisma with Chris Hemsworth??) but she did a competent job as Padme. I wish they had cast unknowns with buckets of talents instead of industry sweethearts. (Hayden was beloved up until the Starwars series).

  12. Case says:

    Now that the younger set that grew up with the prequels are older, those movies and performances seem better liked by the fandom (at least on the internet). Which would be nice and fine if those fans didn’t turn around and hate on the sequels/sequel fans. The Star Wars fandom is truly the worst. I love Star Wars (all nine films have flaws and heart and that is their appeal to me) but hate associating with a toxic fandom that refuses to let people like things they don’t and literally bullies actors.

    That said, glad Hayden is coming back for these projects and I think it makes a lot of sense.

  13. Fp says:

    Watch Awake. That man at his peak was just soooo handsome.

  14. Lila says:

    Ahsoka and Anakin played really nicely off each other in the animated Clone Wars series. And now there’s all kinds of interesting water under the bridge. That said, it was completely different voice actors for clone wars, so I hope this cast can maintain the good thing they’ve been set up for.

    • koalajoey says:

      The animated Clone Wars are amazing. Matt Lanter makes you love Anakin. Just the way he says “Ahsoka” at two critical times (CW S5 E19 or 20 and Rebels S2 E22)…it’s so good! The Clone Wars and Rebels put the prequels in a whole new light; the meat of the story is there in the prequels, because it is Lucas’s brain and I do think he is brilliant (and yes, I also love Kurosawa films and George is not just a ripoff), and it’s so frustrating to see the dialogue and direction sabotage that. Dave Filoni knew how to put flesh and bones and heart in it. I will always wonder what kind of sequels we could have gotten if they’d just let Filoni or the Rogue One people be in charge. I wish there was a way to meld the voice actors with the theatrical actors in these new Disney+ shows. Ashley Eckstein and James Arnold Taylor are so talented; James supernaturally so.

      I would also highly recommend Hayden’s other films if anyone needs proof he was a phenomenal actor, esp. Shattered Glass.

    • Rhonda says:

      Exactly what Lila and Koalajoey are saying. The story of Ahsoka really wasn’t part of the prequels and is from the animated series which did a great job of developing Anakin’s story before he became Darth Vadar. If Dave Filoni is at the helm of Ahsoka, then I am sure it will be great.

  15. CE says:

    I’m stoked for all these series and hope they do a bit of fleshing out the characters better with Dave Filoni involved. He seems to be “the chosen one” in terms of redeeming the expanded star wars universe. I’m hoping with better writing and directing that Hayden can redeem himself too. If you’re interested in enhancing your perspective on the prequels, watch the Clone Wars and/or read the novelization of episodes 2 and 3.

  16. BeeCee says:

    I feel like I’m the only one that liked the prequels and liked his portrayal…
    He’s a good actor, he was just succumbed to crummy writing… but I still enjoyed his performance.
    I’m definitely looking forward to this new series!

  17. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Anakin’s character was set up to fail through dialogue and that actor portraying young Anakin in the first prequel. And Jar Jar of course. There’s always a fair bit of cringey banter and tongue in cheek crapola in SW’s films, but the prequels set a new standard trying to cater to a more focused demographic. Bad mistake. Young Anakin and Jar Jar ignited a hate fest in me which was almost ironic in it’s outcome. I can’t watch the first movie, but I have to watch the next two if I’m going into the saga lol. And what also throws me off is that I love Rogue One more than any other recents, so it’s best I go chronologically and follow up Rogue with Star Wars (1977). Hayden’s right to come back to this character. I hope they give him redemption.

  18. Tana says:

    I was 13 when Episode II came out, and crushed hard on Hayden. I’m so excited about this!

  19. Lala11_7 says:

    There’s a reason why Empire & Rogue One are considered the best out of the Saga…because George Lucas didn’t direct them…he has a TALENT for getting a “meh” performance out of a damn good actors…

  20. Eve says:


  21. bettyrose says:

    He’s gotten cuter.

  22. BountyHunter says:

    I am unabashedly a huge fan of “The Clone Wars” (for the costumes alone, even, seriously!) and the overacting in it.

    The Star Wars fandom can come for me anytime.

    I have plenty of deathsticks.