Before landing the lead role as Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith Hayden Christensen was virtually unknown. But with the premiere of Episode II, Christensen’s life was forever altered. The franchise skyrocketed him to fame. All of a sudden he was everywhere. He was on lunch boxes, on magazine covers and he made young girl’s hearts everywhere skip a beat. Mine included.
How does one deal with sudden stardom? After Star Wars Christensen appeared in a few more films – including Jumper and Factory Girl – but then he disappeared. The actor bought some farmland and pulled a disappearing act. But why? Apparently, Christensen felt undeserving of the acclaim he had received. He felt like an imposter.
“I guess I felt like I had this great thing in ‘Star Wars’ that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me,” Christensen told the L.A. Times while promoting his first film in five years 90 Minutes in Heaven. “I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave”.
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are currently heading down the same path, and just earlier this week Kristen Stewart gave Ridley some advice on how to handle fame and sudden stardom. “Focus on the fact that you’re stoked ’cause you’re doing the work that you want to do. It’s literally mainly just about focusing on what makes you happy. And if losing your anonymity or whatever doesn’t make you happy, then focus on something else”.
Christensen seems to have done exactly this. He escaped Hollywood in order to find his footing, and forge his own path. “You can’t take years off and not have it affect your career,” he said. “But I don’t know — in a weird, sort of destructive way, there was something appealing about that to me. There was something in the back of my head that was like, ‘If this time away is gonna be damaging to my career, then so be it. If I can come back afterward and claw my way back in, then maybe I’ll feel like I earned it”.