Plucked from obscurity to play the teenage Anakin Skywalker in Episode II: Attack Of The Clones, Canadian Christensen has worked hard in the years since to prove there is more than one colour to his lightsaber. After making his film debut in The Virgin Suicides, he later starred opposite Kevin Kline in Life As A House and was excellent as the disgraced journalist anti-hero of Shattered Glass. Next up he is telling tales in medieval Italy in The Decameron.
How much pain did you suffer in the scenes where Anakin is hideously disfigured and transformed into Darth Vader?
The pain and suffering actually came when they took the prosthetics off. They made this full body prosthetic which they would glue to every inch of your face. Putting it on was fine, but taking it off was a different story. It was full on makeup that, looking at myself in the mirror, even made me react, which was nice. Being unrecognisable obviously aids in making that transformation. But it was a thrilling moment lying on the operating table as Darth Vader's mask came into frame. It was good fun.
What was the reaction of people to you wearing that suit?
That was what was thrilling: watching everyone take Vader in for the first time. People that I'd spent a lot of time with, who knew I was in the costume, would see him and while there was an excitement and a certain awe, there was a fear and a respect. As I walked by, their eyes would light up and then they would lower their heads a bit and take a couple of steps back. That was a very empowering feeling.
Was the day when you wore the costume a big event in the shooting of the film?
Oh yeah, it was Vader's day and it was the last day of filming as well. Everyone from the production offices, and everyone working on the film came out to bear witness. It was an exciting day.
What's the best thing about being bad on screen?
Getting to become Darth Vader and put on the costume, that was the best bit.
Were you ever daunted by the challenge in playing this iconic character?
As much as you might try to disregard it, it's a daunting task taking on a role that has such attention on it. There are a few pivotal scenes that were a challenge. The one between myself, Ian [McDiarmid] and Sam Jackson is a big one. You go to work those days ready to deliver. Thankfully George had conceived a well-rounded character that was easy to follow in the script. So I was able to follow his lead.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 19th May 2005.