Hayden Christensen is a Canadian actor and producer. He began his career on Canadian television at the age of 13, then diversified into American television in the late 1990s. He was praised for his acting as Sam in Life as a House (2001), earning Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
Christensen gained international fame for his portrayal of Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), a role he will reprise for the announced Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. His honours for these films include a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Actor and the Cannes Film Festival Revelation Award. He also received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Stephen Glass in the 2003 film Shattered Glass.
Christensen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Alie, an American speechwriter, and David Christensen, a Canadian computer programmer and communications executive. His father is of Danish descent, and his mother has Swedish and Italian ancestry. Christensen is one of four children, with three actor siblings: older brother Tove, older sister Hejsa, and younger sister Kaylen. Christensen was an athlete in high school, playing hockey competitively and tennis on a provincial level.
He spent summers on Long Island with his maternal grandmother, Rose Schwartz, and attended the Actors Studio in New York City; he studied as well at the Arts York drama program at Unionville High School in Markham, Ontario. After accompanying his older sister to her agent's office after she landed a role in a Pringles commercial, he began being cast in commercials as well, including for Triaminic cough syrup in 1988.
Christensen made his acting debut in September 1993, when, at the age of 12, he played a supporting role on the German-Canadian television series Macht Der Leidenschaft/Family Passions. The following year, he had a minor role in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. From 1995 through 1999, he appeared in several films and television series, including Harrison Bergeron, Forever Knight, Goosebumps, The Virgin Suicides, and Are You Afraid of the Dark.
He acquired wider notice while starring in Fox Family Channel's television series Higher Ground in 2000, portraying a teen who was sexually molested by his stepmother, and then turned to drugs in his despair.
Christensen's critically acclaimed portrayal of a misunderstood teenager in Life as a House (2001) earned him Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, as well as the National Board of Review's award for Breakthrough Performance of the Year. However, the performance did not receive widespread public notice. In 2002, Christensen made his London theatre debut with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin in This Is Our Youth.
He went on to receive positive reviews for 2003's Shattered Glass, which tells the true story of journalist Stephen Glass, who was discovered to be fabricating stories as a writer for The New Republic and other publications. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, "Hayden Christensen is sensational as Glass, finding the wonder boy and the weasel in a disturbed kid flying high on a fame he hasn't earned." In 2005, Christensen made his Broadway debut when he appeared briefly in a 10-minute play.
In 2005, he took part in the fifth annual "24 Hour Plays" benefit, which raises cash for nonprofit groups in the Big Apple.
Between 2006 and 2007, he starred in Awake, with Jessica Alba, which tells the story of a man who remains awake but paralyzed during heart surgery, and co-starred in Factory Girl, opposite Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce. Christensen next co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell, and Rachel Bilson in the film Jumper, the story of a young man who discovers he has the ability to teleport; the film was released on February 14, 2008. Bilson and Christensen co-starred again in the same segment of the film New York, I Love You. Christensen appeared opposite Mischa Barton in Virgin Territory, which was released directly-to-DVD in North America on August 26, 2008. The film, based on The Decameron, is about a group of people who escape the Black Plague epidemic by hiding out in a Tuscan villa in Italy.
In October 2009, Christensen started shooting the horror film Vanishing on 7th Street, directed by Brad Anderson, with Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo. Christensen appeared in the crime drama Takers with Idris Elba and Paul Walker, released in the United States on August 27, 2010. Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey is the fourth film in which Christensen stars with Samuel L. Jackson.
In 2010, Christensen sued USA Network over allegations that they stole his idea for the TV show Royal Pains. The suit alleges that Christensen met with USA to pitch a similar series entitled Housecalls. During the meeting, Christensen alleges, he was never informed that a similar program was in development. Although a federal judge at first dismissed Christensen's lawsuit in 2011, in June 2012, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this decision and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings, in what was considered a legal victory for Christensen.
On May 20, 2013, during the Cannes Film Festival, the Russian company Enjoy Movies announced the creation of Glacier Films, an alliance company with Christensen and his brother Tove. Over a three-year period, Glacier Films intends to make 11 "micro-budget" movies costing $1.5M each. The first project, American Heist, starring Christensen, Adrien Brody and Jordana Brewster, started filming in June 2013. It is a remake of Steve McQueen's The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery. In 2014, he starred in the American-Chinese-Canadian film Outcast, an action drama, alongside Nicolas Cage.
In 2015, Christensen starred in the film 90 Minutes in Heaven co-starring Kate Bosworth and directed by Michael Polish based on the best-selling novel by the same name. In 2015, filming began of an unreleased World War II Nazi zombies horror movie titled Untöt, set to star Christensen. In 2017, he was in the film First Kill alongside Bruce Willis. In 2018 he appeared in the Canadian-American romantic comedy Little Italy with Emma Roberts and in the same year was in The Last Man.