Hayden Christensen on the 'Canadianness' of 'Obi-Wan' and How Darth Vader Changed His Life

The Canadian actor, who was in Toronto for a special screening of 'Obi-Wan,' talks about reprising the role of Darth Vader, meeting Justin Trudeau, and more.

Hayden Christensen  at Obi-Wan screening in Toronto

Image via Disney/George Pimentel

Hayden Christensen  at Obi-Wan screening in Toronto

While Obi-Wan Kenobi is being enjoyed by audiences globally, Canada has more to celebrate as the Disney+ series features two homegrown talents: Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader and director Deborah Chow.

The two were recently in Toronto for a special “marathon” screening of all six episodes for a throng of lightsaber-weilding fans. Christensen has a special place is his heart for Toronto, having grown up here.

In Obi-Wan Kenobi, he returns to the series to reprise his role as Darth Vader. Coming back to the character after 17 years was exciting for the actor, who knows the importance of the character amongstStar Warsfans.

The series follows the storied Jedi Master, who contends with the consequences of his greatest defeat: the downfall and corruption of his one-time friend and apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.

We caught up with Christensen to discuss how the character’s defined his life, reconnecting with Ewan McGregor, the Canadian-ness of the series, and more.

Darth Vader in Disney+'s Obi Wan

In the series, 10 years have passed since Revenge of the Sith, so what was your process for this iteration of the character?
After I found out I was going to be coming back to this role, there was still a decent amount of time before we started filming. So I just started to kind of meditate a little bit on this character and started to do my research and reimmerse myself back into the Star Wars universe and watched all the films again, and a lot of the TV shows and just tried to get my head back into Star Wars.

Did you feel more pressure this time around after the franchise has grown exponentially over such a large fan base?
I don’t know that I felt more pressure this time around. If anything, I think I was able to just have a little more fun with it. Most of my work in this show is done in the Darth Vader costume and that costume does a lot of the heavy work so I was OK.

You’ve said that this is a character that has come to define you in so many ways, both personally and professionally. How so?
In every way imaginable. When I got involved with the prequels, my whole life changed and this is certainly the character that people associate me with. So it’s hard to think of ways that it hasn’t affected my life.

Hayden Christensen at Obi-Wan premiere in Toronto
“When I got involved with the prequels, my whole life changed and this is certainly the character that people associate me with. So it’s hard to think of ways that it hasn’t affected my life.”

Do you try to humanize him when you could play a character like him?
Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think villains see themselves as the villains. The man behind the mask is Anakin Skywalker, so it was always about sort of tapping into that mindset and humanizing him a little bit more.

The prequel films have a legacy and are adored by so many generations of fans. What is the legacy you want as an actor in this series?
I just want them to have the same sort of love and affection for this character that I did when I was a kid. You know, he’s such an iconic character, and I just want to make sure we maintain that.

What was it like reuniting with Ewan?
When I found out that Ewan was getting involved, I called Ewan up and he was just so warm and excited for me and so we got together and just sort of caught up. We went for a walk in Los Angeles before we started filming. And you know, definitely one of the nicest things about all of this has just been being able to reconnect with Ewan again.

I believe you have mentioned that your daughter has not seen the series yet. When will you introduce it to her and what’s the first one that you’d want to want it to be?
I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Like, what’s the appropriate sort of point of entry for her? I  don’t know, LEGO Star Wars maybe.

You and Deborah are both from Toronto. Did you two have a lot of Toronto stories to share? Did you exchange restaurant recommendations?
Yeah, we definitely bonded over the shared Canadian aspect. Deborah is amazing; she’s an incredibly talented filmmaker and storyteller, but just so cool and such a nice person. And so we definitely bonded over our Canadian-ness.

Hayden Christensen and Deborah Chow at Obi-Wan premiere

Did you guys have Toronto restaurant recommendations?
There’s so much good food here. I don’t really have a go-to spot. I don’t know. Soto Soto is a really good Italian spot that I go to every now and then.

There’s a special screening taking place in Toronto, where you grew up, for your fans. How much does that mean to you?
Yeah, it’s very meaningful. For me having this screening here in Toronto, it just kind of brings everything full circle again. For Deborah and I to be able to end our press tour in Toronto and have it all sort of conclude here is perfect. But I remember when we were doing the prequels, we did a premiere here for Episode II. I brought my mom to it and so my mom’s gonna come tomorrow again, and it’s just a very nice thing.

I also saw that you met Iman Vellani in Los Angeles, another fellow Canadian taking up space at Disney!
Yeah, she’s such a sweet girl. I’m so excited for her. I think she’s on the beginning of a very exciting journey. And we went to the same high school. So we had that connection too. But yeah, no, I was excited to meet her. We also got to meet our Prime Minister that night, Justin Trudeau. So yeah, it was a great night!

What would like fans to take away from the series?
I just want them to enjoy it and feel like the story has taken these characters to a place that they’re satisfied with. The fans are very important. And so of course, we want them to be happy.

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