Movies - TV
Every Single Star Wars Fan Owes Jake Lloyd an Apology
After more than a decade without “Star Wars” content, "The Phantom Menace" was released in 1999 as the largest blockbuster event in modern franchise film history. Though initially adored by fans, no element of the film was more derided than the depiction of a young Anakin Skywalker, the child who would grow up to be Darth Vader.
Anakin was played by 9-year-old actor Jake Lloyd, a performer who was selected for his enthusiasm and energy, a stark contrast to the cloaked supervillain of the ‘77 film. Lloyd's performance put off viewers and led to a harsh online bullying campaign. Because of the teasing he received at school, Lloyd retired from acting in 2001, the year he turned 12.
Lloyd attempted to leave the movie behind him but was still the object of mockery for many, many years. A string of personal problems followed Lloyd well into adulthood and in 2015, Lloyd’s mother called the police on him after a violent outburst. Just a few years later in 2018, his sister, Madison, passed away in her sleep.
In 2020, Lloyd’s mother released a statement that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and acknowledged that he moved closer to be with family during the difficult time. How much the bullying eroded Lloyd's mental health can only be a matter of speculation, but it certainly didn’t help and the world owes him an apology.