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Hayden Christensen

19 Apr 1981 (Age 36)
Hayden Christensen born in April 19, 1981 is a Canadian actor. He appeared in Canadian television programs when he was young, then diversified into American television in the late 1990s. He moved on to minor acting roles before being praised for his role of Sam in Life as a House, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award. He gained international fame portraying the young Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.


Early life

Christensen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, the son of Alie, a speechwriter for the heads of large companies, and David Christensen, a computer programmer and communications executive. His father is of Danish descent and his mother has Swedish and Italian ancestry. Christensen has an older brother and sister, Tove and Hejsa, and a younger sister, Kaylen. Raised outside Toronto in Thornhill, Ontario, Christensen attended E.J. Sand Public School, Baythorn Public School and Unionville High School in Unionville, Ontario, Canada. He was an athlete in high school, playing hockey competitively and tennis on a provincial level.

He spent summers in Long Island with his maternal grandmother, Rose Schwartz, and attended the Actors Studio in New York as well as the Arts York program for drama at his high school. He was "discovered" when his older sister Hejsa, a former trampoline champion, was shopping around for an agent after he landed a role in a Pringles commercial.



Christensen's first acting role was on the television series Family Passions, which aired on Canadian television in September 1993, when he was 12. The following year he acquired a minor role in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. From 1995 through 1999, he appeared in several movies and television shows, including Harrison Bergeron, Forever Knight, Goosebumps, The Virgin Suicides, and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. He acquired wider notice while starring in Fox's Family Network television series Higher Ground in 2000, portraying a teen who was sexually molested by his stepmother, and then turned to drugs in his despair.

While Christensen's critically acclaimed portrayal of a misunderstood teenager in Life as a House (2001) earned him Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations as well as the National Board of Review's award for Breakthrough Performance of the Year, the performance did not receive widespread public notice. For his part in the movie, Christensen lost 25 pounds through a special diet. He eventually gained the weight back during the filming for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In 2002, Christensen made his London theater debut co-starring with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin in This Is Our Youth.

He went on to receive good reviews for 2003's Shattered Glass, which tells the true story of journalist Stephen Glass, who was discovered fabricating stories as a writer for The New Republic. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes "Hayden Christensen is sensational as Glass, finding the wonder boy and the weasel in a disturbed kid flying high on a fame he hasn't earned." In 2005, Christensen made his Broadway debut when he appeared briefly in a 10-minute play. He was among the big name actors and actresses taking part in the fifth annual "24 Hour Plays" benefit, which raises cash for nonprofit groups in the Big Apple.

Star Wars

On May 12, 2000, Christensen announced that he would be starring as Anakin Skywalker in the next two prequels Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). Director George Lucas had turned down such big names as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Phillipe for the role, as well as 1,500 other candidates.

Lucas is quoted as saying that he chose Christensen because he "needed an actor who has that presence of the dark side" that was essential to solidify the story that Lucas was trying to tell: The tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader. In the final two films of the prequel trilogy, Christensen was the only actor portraying a Jedi who was not allowed to customize his character's lightsaber. This was because in Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber was built to be reminiscent of Darth Vader's lightsaber in the original trilogy, while in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin's lightsaber was designed to match the lightsaber that Obi-Wan Kenobi gives to Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Christensen, during the production of Revenge of the Sith, asked Lucas if a special Vader suit could be constructed to fit his own body, rather than have a different actor don one of the original sets of Vader armor worn by David Prowse. Lucas agreed, and a suit was engineered to fit Christensen's frame, even including extensions to allow for the actor to attain Vader's 2.02 meter. His voice as the "robotic" Vader, however, was dubbed over by James Earl Jones, who first made it famous in the original trilogy.

Stock footage of Christensen was used in the controversial 2004 DVD release of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, where he was inserted in place of actor Sebastian Shaw. This was an unpopular change for many. Christensen insists this was done without his knowledge, an act that is confirmed by Lucasfilm itself in the featurette "Return of the Jedi: What has changed?" as seen on the official website to commemorate the 2006 DVDs.

Christensen's role as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars made him a star. Although his performance was met with generally negative reviews by critics (earning him the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor in both Episodes II and III) he became briefly popular among audiences, being named in both People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People and Teen People's 25 Hottest Stars under 25. Christensen continued to work a little more with Star Wars: He was the basis of Anakin Skywalker's fighting style in the video game adaption of Revenge of the Sith and reprised his role of Anakin uncredited via archive sounds in the video game Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick.


Between 2006 and 2007, he starred in Awake, with Jessica Alba, which tells the story of a man who remains awake but paralyzed during heart surgery, and in Factory Girl, opposite Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce. Christensen next starred with Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell and Rachel Bilson in the film Jumper, the story of a young man who discovers he has the ability to teleport; the film was released on February 14, 2008. Bilson and Christensen co-starred again in the same segment of the film New York, I Love You. Christensen also appeared opposite Mischa Barton in Virgin Territory, which was released directly-to-DVD in North America on August 26, 2008. The film, based on The Decameron, is about a group of people who escape the Black Plague epidemic by hiding out in a Tuscan villa in Italy.

Christensen was slated to appear in an adaptation of William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer, set for a 2009 release, but has since been removed from the IMDB cast list. Christensen appeared in the crime drama Takers released in the United States on August 27, 2010. Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey will be the fourth film in which Christensen will co-star again with Samuel L. Jackson. In October 2009 he started shooting the horror film Vanishing on 7th Street, directed by Brad Anderson, alongside Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo. Christensen recently has been cast in the role of Joe Lassiter in David R. Ellis's upcoming film, The Genesis Code.

In 2010 Christensen sued USA Network over allegations that they stole his idea for the TV show Royal Pains. The suit alleges that Christensen met with USA to pitch a similar series entitled "Housecalls", during the meeting Christensen alleges that he was never informed that a similar program was in development.

Personal life

In 2007, Christensen began dating actress Rachel Bilson, whom he had met the previous year while filming Jumper. They became engaged on December 25, 2008. In August 2010, they officially called off their engagement and ended their relationship. 'Distance' was reportedly one of the main reasons for their split. Three months later, in November 2010, it was reported that Bilson and Christensen have begun dating again. Previously, he has been "romantically linked" with Factory Girl co-star Sienna Miller and Star Wars co-star Natalie Portman. He currently resides in Uxbridge north of Toronto, Ontario.

Christensen performed a public service announcement for Do Something's Teens for Jeans Campaign in 2008. He appeared as a model in Louis Vuitton's advertising and was also named as the face of Lacoste's newest fragrance, Lacoste Challenge. Featured in RED’s new Lazarus Effect Campaign, which is intended to increase awareness for its efforts to fight AIDS in Africa.
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