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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
From Star Wars fan to lead actor
Anakin Skywalker
Christensen stars as Anakin Skywalker
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By Peter Bowes
BBC News in Los Angeles
line

Hayden Christensen, the new Star Wars heart-throb, says he has been advised by director George Lucas to treat the experience with humility.

The 21-year old Canadian actor plays Anakin Skywalker in Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

Christensen's career started at the age of 13 when he appeared in numerous TV shows. He recently starred on the big screen opposite Kevin Kline in the drama Life as a House.


I constantly kind of had the Star Wars theme playing through my head whenever I walked on set

Hayden Christensen
He says he has been a fan of the sci-fi classic since he was a young child.

"I just remember being lost in the whole fantastical universe that is Star Wars," he says.

"I was a fan, but didn't watch it every weekend thereafter. I really got into the trilogy when they were digitally re-mastered and theatrically re-released."

Dark side

In Attack of the Clones, Christensen plays Anakin Skywalker 10 years on from the first prequel, The Phantom Menace.

George Lucas
Lucas has advised his young cast on dealing with fame
In Episode III he will become Darth Vader. Lucas has said that he wanted a young actor who could carry off the character's dark side as well as having onscreen chemistry with co-star Natalie Portman.

"I never really had any trepidations about taking the role, it was something I was never going to pass on," says Christensen.

"It was obviously a little daunting trying to figure out why I got the part."

Filming for Episode II started two years ago. Christensen says the first week was "filled with lots of emotion".

He adds: "I constantly kind of had the Star Wars theme playing through my head whenever I walked on set."

He says the experience of being surrounded by some of the best film-makers in the world, including the legendary Lucas, was somewhat intimidating.

"It was kind of like the Pygmalion feeling of maybe I'm not really supposed to be here," he explains.

Life-changing

"It was just a matter of letting go of those feelings and focusing on the task at hand."

With the kind of fanatical following that comes with being part of Star Wars, Christensen knows it could change his life for good.

"George has advised me not to embrace it and to take everything with a good sense of humility," he says.

"I don't really see how it's something you can exactly prepare for, you just have to take it as it comes."

A crucial part of the storyline in Episode II is the romance between Anakin and Padme Amidala, played by Portman.

Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala
Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala become close in Episode II
Christensen says the two actors worked hard to ensure their intimate scenes together were not clumsy.

"It was a combined effort," he explains.

Weird

"There was a play to become comfortable with each other and spend time outside of work so there wasn't any real awkwardness when we had to do those scenes.

"If anything we had a laugh afterwards and it was just sort of silly."

However, he adds, "kissing your friend is still kind of weird".

With hundreds of Star Wars fans queuing outside cinemas around the world, Christensen is well aware that he is part of a unique phenomenon.

"Obviously, these films have attracted a huge following and people get very fanatical about things that they really enjoy," he says.

But as for camping out in the streets since January, as some fans have done in the US, the young actor draws the line.

"It's not something I'd do, but I can appreciate other people wanting to do it."

See also:

16 May 02 | Film
Star Wars goes global
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