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Hayden Christensen Biography:

Canadian actor Hayden Christensen, a tall, strapping blond with a loyal fan base, was beginning to carve out a respectable acting career for himself with supporting roles in television and a couple of entries into film when he shot to instant stardom, landing the much-coveted role of Anakin Skywalker in "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002). While the long-awaited announcement left some die-hard "Star Wars" fanatics unhappy and many a fellow up and comer disappointed, the little-known actor was poised to make the most of his opportunity and prove to be more than just a pretty face. His often emotionally jarring performances as bad boy Scott Barringer in the otherwise lackluster Fox Family Channel series "Higher Ground" made success in this regard seem entirely plausible, Christensen appearing capable of handling the darker aspects of his Darth Vader-in-the-making character.

The Toronto-bred actor did extensive work in projects lensed in his home country, beginning with the German-Canadian TV-series co-production "Macht der Leidenschaft/Family Passions" in 1994. He also appeared in the direct-to-video release "Street Law", and in 1995 took a cameo role as a paper boy in John Carpenter's eerie thriller "In the Mouth of Madness". Christensen continued with TV-movie work, taking featured roles in adaptations of works by two famed but dissimilar authors with turns in the sci-fi satire "Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron" (Showtime, 1995) and the heady romance "Danielle Steele's 'No Greater Love'" (NBC, 1996). The young performer racked up credits in preteen-aimed programming, with guest roles in the series "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" (Nickelodeon) and "The Famous Jett Jackson" (The Disney Channel) and a starring turn as a teen haunted by sinister puppets in the Fox primetime movie special "Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy III".

2000 proved a banner year for Christensen, who started off with his regular starring role on "Higher Ground". Christensen, who had acted on Fox Family Channel previously with a supporting part in the plane crash disaster film "Free Fall" (1999), arguably had the series' juiciest role, playing a drug-abusing delinquent whose wicked ways were traced back to a disturbing encounter with his inappropriately seductive stepmother. The character won the hearts of his female classmates at Mt. Horizon, a tough-love high school in the wild, and the actor was similarly successful in winning over fans, who responded to his strong and emotionally credible performance. He was featured in Sofia Coppola's directorial debut "The Virgin Suicides", playing Jake, an academic achiever granted permission to join three other boys as escorts for the four lovely but cosseted Lisbon sisters. Although the role was small, Christensen gave a charming performance as the appropriately awkward young man. That year also saw him take a supporting role in ABC's gripping horrors of heroin addiction telepic "Trapped in a Purple Haze". Interestingly, that film starred Jonathan Jackson, who was long considered a favorite for the role on Anakin. Within a month of its airing, Christensen had nabbed the role, reportedly due to good on screen chemistry with predetermined co-star Natalie Portman, and no doubt aided by his remarkable ability to completely change his look from angelic to indecent with a flash of his eyes.

Playing the young adult version of a character as steeped in American popular culture as Darth Vader would be a challenge for Christensen. While the role would certainly thrust him into the spotlight, the glow could be all too temporary, although his youth and the range displayed in his character's internal struggle between good and evil could help to avoid future typecasting and ensure a lasting career. Further solidifying his status as a rising star, Christensen turned in a highly-regarded supporting performance as the glue sniffing, pill poppping, disaffected teenage son of Kevin Kline in the effective tearjerker "Life as a House" (2001).



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