Over two decades have passed since Hayden Christensen first portrayed Anakin Skywalker, wielding a lightsaber in 2002’s Attack of the Clones. However, when the 42-year-old actor returned to revisit his role in Ahsoka, his proficiency with the lightsaber was far from diminished.
This year, the actor made a comeback to the Star Wars universe in Ahsoka, co-starring with Rosario Dawson’s titular warrior. Ahsoka, who was originally Anakin’s Jedi Padawan, shares an extensive history with him in the Clone Wars animated series, witnessing her former friend and mentor’s descent to the dark side. The former master and apprentice engage in lightsaber combat once more in the Disney+ series, and series creator Dave Filoni commended Christensen for his “ferocity of performance.”
“His lightsaber skills are just insane,” Filoni tells Entertainment Weekly, shaking his head. “I mean, he is the Chosen One. There is no doubt.”
Filoni reveals that he has harbored a desire to collaborate with Christensen for years, dating back to their initial meeting backstage, where they formed an “instant connection” during a previous Star Wars Celebration. Their bond strengthened over shared experiences working with George Lucas: Christensen, the star of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and Filoni, the creator of the animated Clone Wars series, delving into Anakin’s journey between the two films.
“It was kind of amazing to have somebody who had this experience, too, who would know the things I was talking about related to Anakin and how George saw him,” Filoni remarks. “We really understood each other and the language of it.”
Christensen has reprised the role previously, most recently featuring in flashbacks and as Darth Vader in last year’s Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, in Ahsoka, the timeline is set after Anakin/Vader’s demise in Return of the Jedi, requiring the actor to essentially portray every iteration of Anakin — from the determined young Jedi to the ruthless Sith lord to the contemplative warrior who sacrificed himself to save Luke. Filoni was certain he wanted to reintroduce Anakin for a conversation with Ahsoka, and this occurs around the midpoint of the season, as Ahsoka faces a brush with death and awakens in the ethereal Force dimension known as the “World Between Worlds.”
Filoni says he didn’t want Ahsoka and Anakin’s reunion to “devolve into a Star Wars history lesson,” instead of crafting a scene involving a Force ghost, he chose to place their meeting in the World Between Worlds. This allowed them to traverse their shared past together through flashbacks, inspired in part by the abstract, dreamlike sequences in Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha. Prior to filming, Christensen binge-watched episodes of The Clone Wars, and both he and Filoni were intentional about keeping those flashback sequences centered on Ahsoka and her intricate relationship with Anakin.
“We discussed how this isn’t really a story about Anakin, but it’s important to see how Ahsoka sees Anakin,” Filoni clarifies. “This is her lived experience. [His] story is already told, and George’s saga is done. But this is important for her because you’re her mentor.”
Filoni includes that among his cherished moments were those spent observing Christensen on set with Ariana Greenblatt, who portrays the young Ahsoka in flashback scenes. He notes that, in certain respects, it felt like an episode of The Clone Wars being brought to life.
“It gave me pause just to stand there and look at him in the costume, standing next to Ariana,” he remarks. “Because in my mind, it really is no different. No matter what the medium is, the image is always Anakin with Ahsoka — that older brother, younger sister dynamic.”
In the flashback sequence from The Clone Wars, there’s a fleeting shot where Anakin’s silhouette momentarily transforms, revealing Darth Vader striding across the battlefield with his red lightsaber. Filoni aimed to preserve that instant as precisely that — a recognition of Anakin’s tragic journey and a cautionary note on how hatred can result in destruction. On that particular day, he notes, nearly every member of the cast and crew made an appearance, eager to catch just a glimpse of that iconic black cape.
“All Vader had to do was walk in a line,” Filoni chuckles. “But so many people came to set just to see somebody in a Darth Vader costume, walking in a straight line! You realize the power of these characters and the archetypes that George Lucas created, and that’s a real responsibility. You never want that to lessen. You have to keep that as the powerful thing it is.”
Source: Entertainment Weekly