With his breakthrough performance as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars films, Hayden Christensen shot to fame in the early 2000s, a decade after making his acting debut at the age of 13. When the second installment of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones, came out, he made his debut as Anakin.
As can be expected, many of his highest-rated works are related to the Star Wars franchise.
But Christensen has also used his action chops in movies like Jumper and American Heist, two thrillers that aren’t part of the popular franchise. He has also starred in films of other genres, including the horror film Vanishing on 7th Street, the biopic Shattered Glass, and the romantic comedy Little Italy.
The Canadian actor’s breakthrough role was as a misunderstood teenager in the family drama Life as a House, for which he received widespread acclaim. With this work, he was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
Best Hayden Christensen Movies:
1. Life as a House
Christensen’s tearjerker Life as a House, about a man with terminal cancer who tries to mend his relationship with his teenage son, was released a year before his big Star Wars debut. Kevin Kline stars as George Monroe in the film; he learns of his impending death and, with the help of his son, decides to remodel his home.
As Sam Monroe, a rebellious 16-year-old who has trouble communicating with his father, Christensen brings to life a young man who is unable to connect with his father due to his poor attitude and bad habits.
Critics were divided on the film, but many viewers praised Christensen’s performance. The young Canadian actor’s supporting performance in Life as a House resulted in a nomination for him for a Golden Globe.
2. The Virgin Suicides
In her first directorial effort, Sofia Coppola explores the gaps between childhood fantasy, childhood memory, and adolescence through the use of ethereal imagery and a poignant melancholy.
The Virgin Suicides is an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ 1993 best-selling novel of the same name, which tells the story of the haunting tragedy that befell five beautiful but enigmatic sisters living in the suburbs of the 1970s. Following the death of the family’s youngest sister by her own hand, their strict parents resorted to isolating and repressing the remaining girls.
The narrative of the movie is told from the point of view of the boys in the neighborhood who are obsessed with the sisters but never really understand who they are. Christensen plays the role of a single admirer who goes to a dance with a sister.
3. Vanishing on 7th Street
The central concept of this terrifying thriller is a thought-provoking one: what would happen if, all at once, the majority of the world’s population vanished? Most of the people in Detroit vanish in mysterious circumstances at the beginning of Vanishing on 7th Street. Few survivors are aware of the approaching night and the terrors it brings.
Christensen takes on the role of Luke, a young man with a fear of the dark who is one of the few survivors in the devastated Motor City. Luke, along with a small group, must learn to survive in this terrifying new world, one that consumes everything in its path as soon as the sun goes down.
Disappearing on Seventh Street is not quite good enough to be terrible, and it’s not quite bad enough to be completely forgettable. Without pretensions to seriousness, this is the film’s most enjoyable form of campiness. Christensen and John Leguizamo both do a great job in their roles here.
4. Shattered Glass
The film Shattered Glass is a biographical drama that examines the public disgrace suffered by a well-known, up-and-coming journalist. The film is based on a true story. Stephen Glass, an associate editor at The New Republic, is the character that Christensen plays in the show.
Another reporter, Adam Penenberg, finds significant discrepancies in Stephen’s most recent hit story and initiates an investigation into his assertions as a result. In spite of Stephen’s best efforts to cover his tracks, his fabrications are quickly shown to be even more extensive than they initially appeared.
The film investigates the ethics of the media, the perils of sensationalism, and the rise of internet journalism. Chloe Sevigny also stars in the movie.
5. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
The second installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy is 2002’s Attack of the Clones. Fans were hoping for a comeback of sorts from Episode II (The Phantom Menace) after the first film’s underwhelming reception.
What they got was a lot of exposition and worldbuilding, including a fascinating look into the origins of the recognizable Stormtroopers. Audience reaction to Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of the adult Anakin Skywalker was mixed, as it was the first time the actor had played the role.
Christensen has proven his acting chops more than adequately in dramatic roles, but Anakin’s dialogue in the Star Wars prequels is some of the corniest ever written for film. Despite this, the film was a commercial success and is critically important to the Star Wars canon.
6. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith, released in 2005, capped off George Lucas’ epic Star Wars prequel trilogy. The pivotal moment when Anakin gives in to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader was supposed to be revealed, and it did not disappoint in that regard, nor did it disappoint in terms of spectacular science-fiction set pieces.
Characters are also better written than in the other prequels, which helps this film stand out from the pack.
With Anakin’s conflicted emotions, Hayden Christensen gives the character more depth than he did in the previous film. Even though many Star Wars fans agree that they may have gone a bit overboard with the CGI sequences, the action scenes are still more intense than in the other prequels.
7. In the Mouth of Madness
This John Carpenter-directed horror classic is a meta-movie, where truth and fiction become ambiguous. Sam Neill plays John Trent, an insurance investigator who is looking into the disappearance of a famous horror writer, in the film In the Mouth of Madness.
Following the clues, he arrives in a New England town that seems plucked straight from one of Stephen King’s novels. John initially suspects an elaborate publicity stunt, but when supernatural occurrences commence, he starts to lose touch with reality. Christensen makes his acting debut in this short film as a delivery boy for the newspaper.
8. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
Extending over three hours, “The Last Jedi” is the epic conclusion to the latest Star Wars trilogy, in which protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley) leads the Resistance to victory over the oppressive First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a conflicted young man, shares a similar fate with her.
While on her journey to confront the revived Emperor Palpatine, she must draw on her relationship with the Jedi and uncover the truth about who she really is. Christensen lends her voice to the film and makes a brief appearance as a Force ghost who inspires Rey at a critical juncture.
9. New York, I Love You
Through a collection of stories about love and heartbreak, New York, I Love You writes a love letter to its namesake city. Taking cues from films like Love Actually and Valentine’s Day, this romantic anthology follows a large ensemble cast as they travel throughout the five boroughs in search of love.
The movie is not one continuous narrative but rather 11 short films directed by different people. Christensen, Portman, Bradley Cooper, Blake Lively, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Bacon, Cloris Leachman, and Orlando Bloom are just a few of the A-list actors featured in the film.
10. Factory Girl
Based on real events, Factory Girl explores the delicate balance of power in the relationship between an artist and their muse. Sienna Miller plays Edie Sedgwick, a socialite who relocates to New York City in the ’60s and becomes friends with Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce).
He mentors her and uses her in several of his avant-garde films, catapulting her to stardom. Edie falls in love with a charismatic musician modeled after Bob Dylan and finds herself a part of the city’s bohemian artist community (played by Christensen). But her tumultuous past and Warhol’s erratic behavior led inevitably to tragedy.
Even though Hayden Christensen is best known for playing Anakin Skywalker, he has had a number of other interesting roles, some of which have garnered critical acclaim and others of which are best forgotten.
It is high time that he makes a big comeback. Hayden Christensen should stop appearing in Star Wars films. He has won both the Screen Actors Guild Award and the Golden Globe, so he should be given a chance at leading roles.