Friday, May 4, 2012

In Defense of Hayden Christensen

Everyone seems to bash Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin Skywalker in Episodes II and III of Star Wars.  I admit, for a while, I used to do it, too.  However, I may have to rethink my position on the atrociousness of his acting.

In honor of Star Wars Day today, I watched the original Star Wars, now ridiculously known as Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope.  After seeing Mark Hamill's performance as Luke Skywalker and listening to James Earl Jones' voice over work for Darth Vader, I'm now inclined to think that Hayden Christensen is brilliant.  Just ... stick with me on this.

One of the complaints about Christensen's performance is that it was "too over the top."  Vader would never have been such a petulant prick.  Actually, in Episode IV, he was.  He's not the calm, almost Zen, Sith Lord that people remember from Empire and Jedi.  He chokes that rebel dude and then throws him across the room.  He yells - yells - at his subordinates.  "Commander tear this ship apart until you've found those plans!  And bring me the passengers, I want them alive!"  And he barks at Leia.  "You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor.  TAKE HER AWAY!"  Very much like Hayden's performance in Episode VI.

In the beginning of A New Hope, Luke is a whiny little bitch.  He's kind of whiny throughout the movie, but its especially bad in the beginning.  "But I was going to Toshi station to pick up some power converters!"  "But it's a whole 'nother year!"  "Aw, Biggs is right.  I'm never gonna get out of here!"  Similarly, Hayden Christensen's interpretation of Anakin Skywalker as also rather whiny.  Which leads me to think ... Christensen must have seen Episode IV and thought, "Okay, why is Luke so whiny?  Maybe its a hereditary personality trait.  So I'll make Anakin whiny.  That way, it will show that Luke is Anakin's son."  And then he must have thought, "Why is Vader so angry?  I know.  He's angry because things still haven't worked out for him and his whine has turned to rage.  So I'll play that."

Brilliant.  It's an amazing bridge between the characters to show how Anakin became Vader and how Luke is clearly his offspring.  Hayden Christensen's acting choices are sheer genius.  Until you look at his performances in his other movies and you realize, "No.  He really does suck."

1 comment:

  1. Christensen was absolutely brutal in Jumper, and in Awake and in Takers... he's absolutely brutal in any role he's in. He's virtually a male Kristin Stewart... wait they were BOTH in the movie Jumper (God help us).

    I see where you're coming from and reading this made me smile because I've often made the comment "Hey he's really whiney just like Luke was in episode IV" (I know calling it Episode IV is painful for me too... so dumb!) but I don't think it was by design. Bad actors have a habit of coming off really whiney on screen. Remember Leonardo Dicaprio in Titanic? Yikes!

    Hey speaking of Leo... remember how his acting was simply horrid in Titanic? Then he came out with "The Beach" and was even worse? I dubbed him Leonardo DiCRAPrio for a long time and then I went to see Blood Diamond. While watching Blood Diamond I remembered bracing myself in my comfy movie theather seat and thinking... "Oh crap here's Leo.." then he says a line and I'm like.. "wow that didn't suck at all!" In fact Leo had made a complete 180 in terms of his acting, in my opinion his role in Blood Diamond was true brilliance.

    Ok let me make my point before this response becomes a blog in itself.

    We knock Mr. Christensen but really... Star Wars was his very first major Role... and yeah he's sucked in pretty much everything else but one day he'll figure it out... (We can only hope right?). One day, I truly believe Christensen will become a phenomenal actor... but he has a long way to go. May the Force be with him... always.