The Star Wars Scene That Was Pivotal To George Lucas And Hayden Christensen's Relationship On Set

"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" may have an infamous reputation in the saga's canon, but that doesn't make it any less of a "Star Wars" film. With 2022 marking 20 years since the sequel's release, a film already hotly discussed for years now is even more prominent today. Although "Attack of the Clones" has been reassessed and become a little more well-liked over time by young "Star Wars" fans who have nostalgia for the prequels, the film's acting and dialogue choices still spawned many memes and parodies, making it one of the most quotable "Star Wars" films for all the wrong reasons. 

One of those reasons is Hayden Christensen, whose debut as Anakin Skywalker in "Attack of the Clones" would come to define his career, for better and for worse. For years now, Christensen has been at the center of the film's discussion, as well as many memes. Anakin's hatred for sand has become the poster-child for everything wrong with the prequels. But that didn't keep the actor from returning to the role many years later in the limited series "Obi-Wan Kenobi." With the renewed debate surrounding the prequels and Anakin Skywalker, there's no better time to look back at how the working relationship between Christensen and Lucas blossomed and gave us the Jedi's turn to the dark side. 

According to Christensen, there was one scene in "Attack of the Clones" that was pivotal to the working relationship that would develop between him and director George Lucas.

The vulnerability of Anakin Skywalker

The scene in question is Anakin's confession to Padmé after his slaughtering of Tusken Raiders (who also recently got a spotlight on Disney+), following the death of his mother in one of their camps. Christensen spoke to about collaborating with Lucas in the creation of this scene:

"We all understood that it was an important scene for this character and his arc. When we were rehearsing it, we tried it a few different ways. I had conversations with George [Lucas] about the degree of his angst and emotional state and trying to find it. We tried it one way, and I didn't quite feel like I was connecting with it. George walked over to me, and we had a nice heart-to-heart conversation. I felt that scene was also pivotal in my relationship with him in terms of how we spoke about the work and the character. We opened up our dialogue, which then continued into 'Episode III.' But yeah, that scene was a big one."

It's not hard to imagine why Christensen had trouble connecting with the dialogue Lucas had written for him. Even in the final product, Anakin's "but wait... there's more!" approach to telling Padmé that he also slaughtered the women and children didn't exactly evoke empathy or regret. However, Anakin as a character was clearly significant to Christensen, and he was able to open up a dialogue with Lucas about the scene. While audiences may not have accepted the result in the way the creators hoped, it still solidified their working relationship going into "Revenge of the Sith," which would be looked on more favorably than "Episode II," with Christensen bringing even more angst to Anakin.

Star Wars without oversight

While George Lucas and Hayden Christensen's relationship may have benefitted, one might wonder what a little more oversight could have done to the project. The original trilogy of "Star Wars" films features two different directors and three different screenwriters outside of George Lucas. On one hand, free-reign on an entire trilogy provides a consistent throughline (something the sequel trilogies lack). However, it came at the expense of having dialogue and direction that comes off as corny, even if Lucas protests that everything is played honestly and to the hilt.

Imagining other creators stepping in to take the helm of the "Star Wars" prequels may be merely hypothetical. But Lucasfilm revealed what that might have looked like with the Disney+ series "Obi-Wan Kenobi," bringing back Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, who has now become Darth Vader. Christensen enjoyed the collaboration and relationship he developed with Lucas when trying to find Anakin's vulnerability, but how did this carry over into "Obi-Wan Kenobi" with director Deborah Chow at the helm?

Collaboration that carries over

"Obi-Wan Kenobi" put Christensen's take on the character to the test again in a flashback sequence that unfolded intermittently throughout the show's fifth chapter. Taking place around the same time as "Attack of the Clones," we get Christensen harkening back to Anakin at his most meme-able. While that could have reminded viewers of the cringe that Anakin delivered in the past, instead we get a better sense of a padawan who yearns only to be the strongest. The result is a more mature, foreboding sense of what's to come in his transformation into one of the most iconic villains of all time.

Director Deborah Chow and writers Joby Harold & Andrew Stanton took the era in which Anakin is most often looked down upon and turned it into a memorable experience tied to his larger story arc as Darth Vader, not to mention his relationship with Obi-Wan. Though that sense of collaboration with director George Lucas from years ago may not have effectively illustrated Anakin's vulnerability, it was nice to see Christensen return to the role of Anakin with pride and rediscover the character's emotions with new creators. The circle is now complete.