For anyone paying attention to both mainstream and indie movies during the 2000s, the name Hayden Christensen rings a bell. He’s starred in intellectual thrillers, Star Wars prequels, and familial dramas. By the end of the decade, though, it seemed he disappeared. What happened to Hayden Christensen?
It turns out his step back from the limelight was partially intentional. After Star Wars, which, while successful, garnered a lot of criticism, Christensen reportedly bought a bunch of farmland and spent five years away from movies. Ultimately, though, he will be remembered for a few stellar lead roles, as well as supporting roles in popular flicks.
Updated on May 16th, 2022, by Shawn S. Lealos: Hayden Christensen has not appeared in as many movies as one might expect from one of Star Wars’ most important actors. However, fans will see a lot more of the actor this summer when he returns to that franchise to reprise his role as Anakin Skywalker, this time in Obi-Wan Kenobi where he finally becomes Darth Vader.
While there are not that many Hayden Christensen movies and TV shows, the ones he did star in impressed the audience, at least through the IMDb voters. While critics never showed appreciation for his releases, the fans who vote on his movies online gave over 10 of his movies a score of over 6 on the movie aggregator website.
15 Honorable Mention: Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey (2010) – 5.1
Hayden Christensen took on a voice role in Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey in 2010. The movie features a photon named Dave forced out of the sun in a world where the Core is a kind being whose children are all protons, neutrons, and photons.
What was best about the movie was that Star Trek icon William Shatner played The Core and Star Wars icon Mark Hamill was his opposite, The Void. As for Christensen, he plays a surfer proton named Jammer who helps Dace on his mission.
14 Honorable Mention: Little Italy (2018) – 5.7
- Streaming now on Netflix.
Hayden Christensen starred with Emma Roberts in Little Italy, a romantic comedy about a young couple who struggles to maintain their romance while their families own competing pizza restaurants. The fans on IMDb called it “cheesy” and “corny” but also an enjoyable rom-com.
The movie received terrible reviews from critics, at 13-percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, but the IMDb appreciated the movie more, with an average 5.7 score. It also didn’t receive a lot of attention when it came out but is on streaming services now.
13 Jumper (2008) – 6.1
- Streaming now on Max Go and DirecTV.
After Hayden Christensen broke out thanks to his role in the Star Wars prequels, he got a chance to lead his own big-budget action movie. This was Jumper, which was directed by Doug Liman. While it received negative critical reviews, it still made over $225 million worldwide.
That means that plenty of people went to see the movie, and on IMDb, they gave it an above-average score of 6.1. This was a sci-fi Hayden Christensen movie with him starring as a Jumper, a person who could jump through space, which he uses for a life of crime. However, he soon has to fight for his life when a group of religious fanatics set out to kill all Jumpers.
12 New York, I Love You (2008) – 6.2
- Streaming now on Peacock, Roku, Hoopla, Vudu, Tubi, Kanopy, and Redbox.
Hayden appears in this anthology film, alongside Rachel Bilson and Andy Garcia, in the segment directed by Chinese director Jiang Wen.
New York, I Love You, made in 2009, focuses on tales of love in the Big Apple. In this short, Hayden plays a pickpocket involved in a bizarre love triangle. Unfortunately, Jiang Wen’s segment is considered one of the low points of the movie, and many viewers found Hayden unbelievable as a thief and lowlife, even though he’s donning a fedora.
11 Takers (2010) – 6.2
- Streaming now on Prime Video.
In 2010, Hayden Christensen joined an action thriller as part of an ensemble cast. The movie was Takers and it followed a group of professional bank robbers who specialize in massive robberies. Christensen is part of this group, along with actors like Michael Ealy, Paul Walker, Chris Brown, and Idris Elba.
However, the team ends up being pulled into a “one last job” scenario and ends up being hunted by two police officers, played by Matt Dillon and Jay Henandez. Once again, this received poor critical reviews but audiences were more forgiving.
10 Factory Girl (2006) – 6.3
- Streaming now on Roku, Vudu, Tubi, Kanopy, and Redbox.
In this 2006 film based on the life of underground film star and 1960s socialite Edie Sedgwick, portrayed by Sienna Miller, Hayden Christensen plays Billy Quinn. Billy is a folk singer loosely based on Bob Dylan.
Sedgwick was known for her friendship with artist Andy Warhol, who ran the infamous Factory in New York City. In the film, Warhol is played by Guy Pearce. Hayden’s character becomes romantically involved with Edie, and their romance creates friction between her and Andy. While this bizarre love triangle is not based on reality, Edie eventually chooses Andy over Billy.
9 Awake (2007) – 6.5
- Streaming now on Roku, Vudu, and Plex.
In Awake, Hayden Christensen plays a young billionaire in need of a heart transplant. Through a series of supernatural events, the billionaire, Clay, realizes the surgeon in charge of his transplant plans to botch it and collect the insurance money from Clay’s death.
Clay also finds out his new wife, Sam, played by Jessica Alba, is in on the plot. While the 2007 film made over $300 million worldwide, it was not received well by critics. Many people found its convoluted plot and predictable twists unremarkable.
8 Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) – 6.5
- Streaming now on Disney+.
While he was never seen in the movie, Hayden Christensen was back in the Star Wars franchise as one of the Force Ghosts in Rise of Skywalker. This happened when Rey was trying to come out on top in the end, and Christensen was back as Anakin Skywalker.
While he wasn’t seen and only had some voice performances in the movie, it was likely what helped lead to him picking up a role in the upcoming Obi-Wan series on Disney+ streaming. However, in his next role, he will be taking on the role of Darth Vader for the first time.
7 Strike! (1998) – 6.6
• Available to rent on Prime Video, Google Play, and Redbox.
Hayden has a small role in this 1998 film originally released under the title The Hairy Bird. A coming-of-age comedic drama set in 1963, the movie focuses on what happens after an all-girl boarding school, Miss Godard’s School for Girls, is forced to merge with a boy’s boarding school due to budgetary issues.
In the movie, he plays the date of one of the main characters, Tinka, and he dances with her at the annual St. Ambrose dance. Hayden was just a teenager when the film was made.
6 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones – (6.6)
- Streaming now on Disney+.
In this 2002 second installment of the Star Wars prequels, Hayden Christensen plays 20-year-old Anakin Skywalker. He’s Obi-Wan Kenobi’s apprentice, a young, impatient Jedi in training. In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Anakin falls in love with former queen Padme Amidala, played by Natalie Portman, while dealing with an emotional loss.
Anakin’s mother perishes, and then he loses an arm while fighting against the separatist leader Dooku. Despite all this, he’s considered the “chosen one” in the Jedi prophecy. As the Clone Wars begin, the film ends. Episode II received mixed reviews, and many fans criticized its flat characters, including Anakin.
5 In The Mouth Of Madness (1994) – 7.1
- Available to rent on Prime Video, Vudu, DirecTV, Apple TV, and Google Play.
Hayden’s first feature role was in the 1994 John Carpenter horror film In The Mouth of Madness. The film stars Sam Neill, who plays an investigator hired to track down a missing author. The investigator, John Trent, soon finds himself in a serious predicament: the events of the author’s best-selling horror books are coming true.
Hayden was a young tween when he filmed his parts for this film. He’s credited as a paperboy, and his part in the film is quite minor.
4 Shattered Glass (2003) – 7.2
- Streaming now on Tubi and IMDb TV.
In this critically-acclaimed Hayden Christensen movie, the actor stars alongside Peter Sarsgaard in this 2003 drama based on the true story of journalist Stephen Glass. Glass, a reporter for The New Republic, was an up-and-coming news media star when his colleagues realized the vast majority of his stories had been almost completely fabricated.
Hayden plays Stephen Glass, and his manipulative, eager approach to portraying the young journalist won positive attention from multiple film critics. The film does a good job of exposing what really happens in the world of journalism.
3 The Virgin Suicides (1999) – 7.2
- Streaming now on Prime Video, Fubo, and Paramount+.
Sofia Coppola’s award-winning 1999 indie masterpiece The Virgin Suicides follows the downfall of the Lisbon family in the 1970s Midwest. With a star-studded cast and gripping plot, The Virgin Suicides was an underground hit.
Hayden Christensen plays Jake Conley, a friend of Josh Hartnett’s character, Trip, who agrees to take one of the Libson sisters to the Homecoming Dance so Trip can go with his crush, Lux. Lux, played by Kirsten Dunst, is abandoned by Trip after giving him the physical intimacy he wants, a catalyst for the film’s dark ending.
2 Life As A House (2001) – 7.5
The Hayden Christensen movie considered the actor’s breakthrough performance is this 2001 indie family drama. He plays Sam, a troubled young man who likes piercings and dark clothes. His estranged father, George, attempts to reconnect with Sam after he learns he has cancer.
In the film, George convinces Sam to help him build his dream house by the sea, and the two go through a difficult, but ultimately fulfilling, rebuilding of their relationship. A total tearjerker, Hayden’s transformation in the film caught many film lovers’ attention.
1 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005) – 7.6
- Streaming now on Disney+.
The last in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith explores Anakin’s evolution into Dark Vader. After Palpatine sets a seed of doubt in Anakin’s mind, the young Jedi finds himself torn between the Force and the dark side. Everyone knows which side ultimately woos Anakin.
Episode III is considered the best of the prequel trilogy, and fans were, overall, happy with how George Lucas resolved the various Star Wars storylines.
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