I've concluded Hayden Christensen isn't a bad actor

Here the thing; I know for a fact that Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Smits, Christopher Lee and the like are all talented actors. I’ve seen them act with great skill. But the Star Wars prequels are on Space right now and if I’d never seen any of those people act before I’d swear they were the worst actors I’ve ever seen.

I just watched a scene, right this moment, in “The Phantom Menace” where Queen Amidala, Boss Nass and the Jedi are planning the big battle, and Portman is acting WORSE than I’ve ever seen Steven Seagal act. She’s worse than Jean Claude Van Damme. She’s worse than Madonna, a lot worse, in fact. she’s worse than Britney Spears. She’s worse than anyone I have ever seen in a mainstream Hollywood film; I’m talking college movie bad, porn movie bad, elementary school Christmas play bad. She’s delivering all her lines in a flat, toneless drone that makes we wonder if she wasn’t acting at gunpoint.

And everyone else is just as bad. Neither Liam Neeson nor Ewan MacGregor look like they’re taking the movie seriously or even trying to act; they’re not as bad as Portman but they sure aren’t giving it much of an effort.

I hadn’t watched these movies in years and the acting is way worse than I remember it being… in fact, it’s distractingly bad. It’s the worst acting I’ve seen in a real movie in as long as I can remember.

Now, these are fucking great actors. Liam Neeson is awesome. Ewan MacGregor is as versatile a performer as you’ll ever watch. Natalie Portman has delivered any number of terrific performances. So it can’t be the acting. It’s gotta be the direction.

Hayden Christensen gets a bad rap for his acting in the two prequels he was in solely because he didn’t really have a reputation in anything else. You know the others are good actors, so you don’t say “Liam Neeson sucks” because you’ve seen him act so well is so many other pictures. But Christensen didn’t get that break. But here’s the thing:

  1. He WAS very good in “Broken Glass,” and
  2. I know people who knew him when he was building his career and by all accounts he was as talented as anyone else in the room.

He’s got to have the most undeservedly bad reputation in acting history.

I didn’t see anything at all wrong with Liam Neeson’s, Ewan McGregor’s, or Christopher Lee’s performance. I’d go as far as to say Ewan McGregor was *good *in his role. That the material they had to work with was weak should not be held against them. Natalie Portman, however, showed she needs direction. She gave a more mature, nuanced performance at 13 in Leon: The Professional. Maybe Christensen falls in that category too.

George Lucas has repeatedly admitted, in interviews and to other Directors, that he can’t direct actors, and he can’t write dialogue (he doesn’t even like writing scripts).

But he also didn’t trust other Directors to keep his movies on the very specific track he wanted them to follow, so was reluctant to give up control.

I do wonder if he regrets that now, as he lies back in his enormous pile of money.

I’m watching him right now as there’s nothing else on…I swear to God, I read someplace that George Lucas ORDERED him act like a wooden robot as he (GL) didn’t want Darth Vader to show much personality.

Lucas did not direct episodes 5 and 6.

Asked and answered?

He’d have an enormous amount of money if he had never made the sequels and might have an even more enormous pile if someone else had directed them, so, no, asked but unanswered.

I kind of weakly agree ( weakly - I saw plenty wrong, I just don’t think they were out and out bad ) with this. I thought Liam Neeson had the least embarrassing performance in the first film ( it helps that he does mature gravitas very well ) and McGregor was the most consistent over the series - he honestly seemed to be working to emulate Alec Guinness.

Christopher Lee was a bit more woodenly hammy, but I think he has a tendency to be a scenery chewer if you give him an inch. Like his peer the late Vincent Price he seems the sort that needs to be strongly reined in.

That said I also pretty much agree with RickJay - it would be quite unfair to judge anyone based on those three films.The material they had to work with was pretty shitty and the direction apparently nonexistent to awful. I actually like bits and pieces of all three as visual spectacles, but in most other ways they are an example of the failure of auteurism.

Nitpick: Shattered Glass. And he was very good in a very excellent movie.

So then, in his mind, what CAN he do? Direct scenery? Cuz I’d love for you to pay me 10 million bucks so that I can film a forest.

Not 100% true. He didn’t direct Empire and that’s where he stressed out the most of having his creation out of his control. He nominally didn’t direct Jedi and handed that to Richard Marquand, but reportedly he was on set so often giving guidance, and definitely handled all the stunt and effects sequences himself, that Marquand was effectively just a figurehead.

That’s why he decided not to give up control to others for the prequels.

Personally, I think he does a great job of playing the cheerleader.

I just got an image of George Lucas in a cheerleader uniform with pom poms…you owe me something now. I’m not sure what but…I feel like I deserve compensation.

I believe you. Cite?

By the way, Hayden is good in Awake, an under-rated, pretty decent movie he was in with Jessica Alba.

It’s totally Lucas and his inability to work with actors.

While Hayden was great in Shattered Glass, I also offer as counter-example, Jumper, in which he was just as bad as in the Star Wars movies.

I didn’t mean George Lucas. I meant Hayden.

David Fincher. George Lucas and Creative Innovation

Hayden was also very good in “My Life as a House”, which he made before he made “Attack of the Clones”.

I’m in agreement with RickJay’s original premise: Lucas hired a lot of very good actors. But, when you have:

  • A director who doesn’t really know how to direct actors
  • Stilted dialogue (Harrison Ford’s infamous quote during production of the original movie: “You can type this stuff, George, but you can’t say it.”)
  • A production which requires the actors to frequently act in front of green screens, against “virtual actors” who will be added during post-production

…it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be getting good work out of those actors. And, now, we have 3 movies which prove the point.

He really just does not belong in action/sci-fi movies.

Not only was Christiansen excellent in Shattered Glass, I thought he was OK in Revenge of the Sith; for example his scene with Palpatine at the concert is IMO one of the best talking scenes in any of the six films (admittedly this isn’t saying much). Apart from ESB the quality of the acting and dialogue in Star Wars has always been bad. While Phantom Menace was easily the most awful, AOTC was only about par and ROTS was a bit above par compared to the OT.