STAR WARS: Hayden Christensen On How Perception Of The Prequels Has Changed And THAT Jedi Temple Scene

STAR WARS: Hayden Christensen On How Perception Of The Prequels Has Changed And THAT Jedi Temple Scene STAR WARS: Hayden Christensen On How Perception Of The Prequels Has Changed And THAT Jedi Temple Scene

Hayden Christensen has opened up on how the perception of George Lucas' Star Wars prequels has changed in recent years, while also revealing new details about the iconic scene set in the Jedi Temple...

By JoshWilding - Feb 11, 2024 11:02 AM EST
Filed Under: Star Wars
Source: Empire (via

2024 marks the 25th anniversary of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the movie which kicked off George Lucas' divisive prequel trilogy. In recent years, all of those have been embraced by fans, leading to the negativity surrounding them being replaced by a sense of nostalgia and, dare we say it, love. 

Don't believe us? Well, a quick look on social media at the buzz surrounding The Phantom Menace's upcoming re-release is vastly different to what happened when the movie got a 3D re-release in 2012.

Empire Online (via recently caught up with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader actor Hayden Christensen to get his thoughts on the time he spent in this Galaxy Far, Far Away as a lead star in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith

"It's been a remarkable experience. And just a very heartwarming one," he says. "The journey that I’ve been on with Star Wars over the last 20 plus years... it’s been a wild ride, and where we’re at now is really meaningful to me."

"I think that those movies have held up well over time," Christensen added, addressing the initial backlash from longtime fans. "It feels like vindication for the work that we did. Everyone that worked on those movies thought that we were part of something special. We all wanted to do our very best work, and we cared a lot about it. And so to see the response from the fans now, it’s very cool."

Since finally becoming Vader in 2005's Revenge of the Sith, the actor has returned to the Star Wars franchise for standout appearances in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka. Looking back at the experience, he opened up on what advice he'd now share with his younger self having been through that journey. 

"Even though I was a bit overwhelmed, I was also a confident young man, and I wanted to make my mark. But I guess if I were to have some advice for me during that general time in my life, it would be: 'Patience,'" he muses. "Because my journey with the character and with Star Wars has at times been a bumpy one...but I’m in a good place with it now. And so that’s why I say patience."

Finally, Christensen admitted how surreal it's been to meet younger fans who adore the man who, uh, slaughtered a temple full of Jedi younglings almost two decades ago. 

"There was a lot of talk about us doing that scene, and I love that George did it. It was a bold move. And it’s shocking," he admits. "Kids seem to forget about that scene when they meet me! There’s not any fear or intimidation. They’re just excited to meet Anakin."

Christensen also recreated (well, sort of) The Phantom Menace's iconic poster. Check that photo out in the X post below shared by Empire

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ProfessorWhy - 2/11/2024, 11:44 AM
FlopWatchers5 - 2/11/2024, 11:45 AM
i always knew III was a classic. didn’t need the hive mind/or articles to convince me.
TREE24K - 2/11/2024, 2:37 PM
@BiggieMac4Sauce - Episode III is my favorite. Feels like the most important episode.
Batmangina - 2/11/2024, 9:05 PM
@BiggieMac4Sauce - Walking out of III was like:

Goddamn. It took 2.75 movies to get back in the groove...
AllsGood - 2/11/2024, 11:50 AM
whynot - 2/11/2024, 11:59 AM
First one was crap (except Darth Maul)
2nd was crap (except Darth Tyranus)
3rd was pretty good from start to finish but not as good as any of the OT IMO

I’ll give the prequels 1 thing they had excellent villians
marvel72 - 2/11/2024, 3:32 PM
@whynot - I agree 100%.I did like Count Doku Vs Yoda in episode 2.
Episode 3 is the best of the prequels.
whynot - 2/11/2024, 3:50 PM
@marvel72 - absolutely! And I love that they fleshed out Tyranus in novelization aswell. I’ll also add that Liam Neeson was a highlight of that first movie for me. He’s just one of those actors that can perform even with the worst possible dialogue lol episode 3 was definitely the best of the prequels. I will say one thing though. I thought Anakins turn was way too fast. He went from that’s not the Jedi way to murdering younglings in the next scene. Also I feel like they thought they needed to setup for episode 4 a little too much. With the tease of the Death Star. I always thought things were a bit rushed in episode 3.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 12:00 PM
There's a lesson is the change in sentiment and don't be surprised if after time the next generation changes the sentiment of the new trilogy. When we see things as kids we tend to ignore the issues and are much more willing to accept it as it is. Empire is another example of this. It happens over and over. I think it's why people are so keen to take childhood things so seriously because to them as kids it was - no matter how goofy it is.

This always gave me a chuckle.
Th3Batman - 2/11/2024, 12:23 PM
@Itwasme - The only way I see opinions on the sequel trilogy changing, is if somehow the next mainline movies are even worse.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 12:25 PM
@Th3Batman - do you think that's why the opinion of the prequels changed?
Th3Batman - 2/11/2024, 12:36 PM
@Itwasme - I don't think the prequels are as bad as people made them out to be, but I do believe it took something far worse for people to realize this and appreciate the things they did get right. As far as the sequel trilogy, I don't know how they could do anything worse, so chances are they'll remain disliked for the most part moving forward.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 12:44 PM
@Th3Batman - "I don't think the prequels are as bad as people made them out to be" this first part is exactly what I'm talking about. Empire wasn't all that well recieved when it first came out and now it's widely considered the best - primarily because younger generations could digest all 3 at once and not piecemeal like when it first came out. Younger generations ignore the very legitimate criticisms of the film.

Now don't get me wrong the 3rd film of the most recent series I feel like isn't even really a film because it fails to follow a narrative, whereas Ep 1 for examples just had a really bad script, poor acting and goofy creative choices (all things also present in the 3rd most recent film). It'll be difficult to get over that, but younger generations will. It's a cycle that repeats itself.
McMurdo - 2/11/2024, 1:56 PM
@Itwasme - delusional. Empire was adored day one. Your desperate revisionism doesn't and cannot change that. The prequels had characterization and story to fall back on. The sequels get as deep as Rey when it comes to characterization......that's it. They don't have story because their story ISNT their story. Vader 2.0 Empire 2.0 Tattooine 2.0 desert protagonist Jedi 2.0. the prequels had a ton of great new characters that were introduced and brought new aspects to Star Wars. to delude yourself into believing the love that the prequels now get (caused of recent in part BY THE SEQUELS) will also stand for the sequels is to misunderstand why the prequels are getting the love they now get by those fans who once derided those films.
McMurdo - 2/11/2024, 6:20 PM
@Itwasme - I can't send my response getting the html error but I saved the response and will try reposting in an hour or I'll send it over the next thread. But yes pure revisionism
McMurdo - 2/11/2024, 6:22 PM
@Itwasme - was able to post my comment without @ you underneath sorry but weird html bug
McMurdo - 2/11/2024, 6:23 PM
This is the take The Last Jedi defenders desperately desire to be true. Empire made
401 million world wide...Star Wars made 410 world wide.

The very worst of the reviews called it "Fine, nice film" - New York Times. But weren't blown away by it other than the special effects and were confused in the shift in tone from the film prior. There were no scathing reviews as a lot of bad faith arguers desperately want you to believe. Everyone in real life basically loved it. You were the coolest kid on your block if you owned the Kenner AT-AT playset. ESB got not one but 3 re-releases into theaters before RotJ because it did so well.

Almost no one disliked ESB on release. Yes. Revisionism. Some critics thought it was too dark. This is not the Last Jedi bud. That film butchered Luke Skywalker and caused the next release, Solo, to legitimately lose money. It made a billion on Luke's return alone and then butchered the one thing the fandom so desperately desired to see.....and THAT tanked Solo, tarnished the brand, and in the process actually put the prequel films on a pedestal. But the dissent fans had for's night and day from how the fandom felt about Empire. Do better.
AvalonX - 2/11/2024, 6:46 PM
@Itwasme - You must be younger than I thought. I can assure you as someone who waited on line for Empire. The fan base was totally mental for ESB. We talked about that cliff hanger for THREE years. Movie reviewers were half just expecting a run of the mill sequel.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 6:46 PM
@McMurdo - I was getting that error earlier, no idea what's up. The reviews were a lot worse than that.

The fan reaction wasn't very strongly positive either. I remember all the chatter around the comic book shops in NYC and there was a lot of "I'm not sure I will see the 3rd". It's not uncommon for fans to overreact though. The bigger issue was probably the ending which was incredibly divisive No big grand battle or climax and it just kind of ends. If someone was watching the series now it would be no big deal since they know there's other films, but to have it just end like that left a lot of people feeling unfuilfilled. I can understand that critique disipating over time, but there are others that are still valid.

The scripting was really poor. Language like "scruffy-looking nerf herder" only ever appears in this film because it didn't really land. It's really goofy and there's a number of lines in there like it. Also, they resolve the love triangle really quickly. We know now that Luke & Leia are related, but we didn't at the time and it seemed like such a cop out the way they did it. Like she only chose Han because she got stuck with him. It's not just that it's resolved, it the pretty radical swing they emotionally go through in a very short period of time. To go from caddy flirting to a deep love in maybe a day or 2 is a lot and people felt it was pretty unnatural at the time. This is just what I remember hearing though.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 6:49 PM
@AvalonX - I was there. The reaction in NYC wasn't like what you experienced. Where were you when it came out?
AvalonX - 2/11/2024, 6:53 PM
@Itwasme - Staten Island. How do you mean the reaction? Every kid in my school couldnt shut up about this movie. The toys were everywhere.
McMurdo - 2/11/2024, 6:53 PM
@Itwasme - I'll come back and respond after game
McMurdo - 2/11/2024, 6:55 PM
@AvalonX - he's wrong. Everyone loved ESB some critics didn't like it as much as a New Hope cuz it wasn't pop porn anymore. It had become darker and more serious. The fans adored it hence how well it did and all the re-releases prior to ROTJ but games on. I've heard this take from most Rian Johnson defenders he used ESB to gaslight fans when TLJ was getting shat on by the fandom and he was being asked about why he decided to ruin Luke.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 7:04 PM
@AvalonX - I was certainly old enough, just finishing High School. West Side Comics was my preffered place, but I remember the people at Big Apple Comics really not liking it, but that place was always sketchy. I didn't go there often, so I remmember that conversation distinctively. This was when Midtown was a mess. There were all a few years older than me anyway.

Did you ever go to Outer Limits? I remember another place in Brooklyn called Pinichios or something.

I never made it to Staten Island. I honestly don't know if I've ever been there tbh. But I will way Wu Tang Forever!
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 7:06 PM
@AvalonX - sorry for the typos.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 7:26 PM
@McMurdo - no worries.
AvalonX - 2/11/2024, 7:31 PM
@Itwasme - I didnt hit some of those until I was older. I moved from SI to Jersey when I was 13. My spot on SI was jim hanley's. My original comic book store wasn't really a comic store at all but a thift store on my way to school. Oddly enough, my mothers side of the family lived in the same hood as Wu Tang. Stapelton if I remember right and the wedding scene from Godfather 1 was filmed right across the street from their house. It was all knocked down when I was a little kid. I don't remember anything but a cleared out lot where we wouldnt play.
Itwasme - 2/11/2024, 7:44 PM
@AvalonX - nice. I lived in Jersey too and was a bridge and tunnel kid for a bit. I mostly grew up a NYHC kid, but there were a lot of ties between that scene and hip hop back in the day - still are. Funny about your neighborhood.

Anyway I just member the reaction so distinctly because it also changed very quickly with younger kids, mostly because once you saw ROTJ the story felt that much more complete. But I remember West Side and Big Apple staff being critical.and of course you can read fan stuff in Starlog and Fantasy & Science Fiction.

I've been thinking of buying some of those old mags to make into art for my place, but I typically like mid-century Sci Fi stuff a little more so I might go that route.
MG0019 - 2/12/2024, 12:58 AM
@McMurdo - I’ll add to this that the Prequels never felt like they were trying to REPLACE the original story. Disney is trying so hard to make people think “stormtroopers” are the sequel troopers. The Falcon is flown by Rey and Chewie. When you hear John Williams score, it’s Resistance X-wings vs First Order Ties you see.

The Prequels were its own thing. It had its own ships, music, and characters. The dialogue is clunky, and directed like a robot; but damn if George can’t world build and set up a huge original story. I don’t see the Sequels becoming as revered simply because there’s not that much to like in the first place. It’s really devoid of any heart and soul; which made up for all the Prequel’s faults.
Forthas - 2/11/2024, 12:38 PM
I am not so sure perceptions have changed. I think people were more receptive to it when they first came out. Then people really began to sour on it. It seems like perception has improved but comparatively. In other words it is more consistent with Star Wars than the last two films. But they are still bad films and I think people still believe that.
Th3Batman - 2/11/2024, 1:14 PM
@Forthas - I would say people opinions on the prequels have went from "these are terrible films" to "these are OK films". I don't think they're loved by any means, they're just not outright hated like they used to be.
marvel72 - 2/11/2024, 3:34 PM
@Th3Batman - No they aren't hated because the Rey trilogy is far worse.
Order66 - 2/11/2024, 2:32 PM
It was the right thing to do.
LSHF - 2/11/2024, 3:41 PM
@Order66 - Well, you "would" say that, as you are the one who him to do it!
Himura - 2/11/2024, 5:17 PM
I like how he's doing press for the 25th anniversary of TPM even though he isnt in it
AvalonX - 2/11/2024, 6:51 PM
Time hasn't changed much for me. I think the Clone Wars helped flesh Anakin out who honestly just wined for almost 3 movies. He wasn't very likeable. I think the triology would have come off better if he condensed parts 1 and 2. We didnt need an entire movie of that. I mean, I get what Lucas was thinking. He has to set up the world, the politics and introduce Anakin. The second suffers from the same thing. Its basically establishing the love story but its too much. Lucas once said he knew the fans wanted to see Vader cutting down Jedi but that isnt the story he wanted to tell. I personally would have liked to see more of Anakin/Vader which seemed to be so quick before he got put in the suit. I think the movie would have benefited from Anakin being the one to hunt the Masters down himself. This would have given the film this impending doom instead of order 66 doing it in a minute or so.

ROTS is good but a lot of missed opportunity to flesh out who Vader is as opposed to Anakin.
WarMonkey - 2/12/2024, 8:07 AM
I've LOVED the prequels since I 1st saw TPM in the theater so it's nice to finally have many others appreciate what they tried to do. The execution was never great, except ROTS imo, but the story, characters, and world building are second to none.

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