When he was only 19 years old, Hayden Christensen was handpicked by filmmaker George Lucas to act in the Star Wars prequels. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that he was picked to lead these films, since he was set to play Anakin Skywalker. Once he accepted this iconic role, this decision completely changed the young actor’s life – especially since this was the first major film set he’d been on.
While he had taken on several acting jobs beforehand, nothing could prepare Christensen for the intergalactic fame he received. That’s why – after he finished his second Star Wars stint in 2005 – the actor purchased a plot of farmland in Canada and performed a Hollywood-style disappearing act.
But, why? After acquiring such an extraordinary amount of success in the acting field, what made him want to leave?
The unexpected answer: impostor syndrome.
“I guess I felt like I had this great thing in Star Wars that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me,” the actor told the Los Angeles Times, while promoting 90 Minutes in Heaven: his first movie in five years. “I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave.”
Although Christensen is grateful for all that Star Wars has given him, that didn’t stop him from feeling overwhelmed. That’s why he took some much-needed time away and is just now, at the age of 34, making his way back into the limelight.
“You can’t take years off and not have it affect your career,” said Christensen. “But I don’t know – in a weird, sort of destructive way, there was something appealing about that to me. There was something in the back of my head that was like, ‘If this time away is gonna be damaging to my career, then so be it. If I can come back afterward and claw my way back in, then maybe I’ll feel like I earned it.'”
While we’re sure Christensen won’t have to “claw” his way back into the movie business, it’s refreshing to hear that even the most famous of us all can feel like an impostor. We all need to take time away from the craziness of everyday life, to figure out who we are and what we want, and the celebrities we admire aren’t that much different.
[Image via Lucasfilm]