(Originally Written for Jedi News)
Seriously, folks. Don’t make me cry this to a camcorder.
Leave Jake Lloyd alone already.
Imagine for a second that you’re a kid, and you get cast to play one of the biggest roles in one of the biggest movie franchises in the world. You do your very best, and the director likes you and the cast likes you. But much of the audience, at least the vocal ones, don’t. You’re called lifeless. You’re called out as one of the main reasons the franchise is somehow now “ruined”. It has followed you throughout the rest of your life.
No wonder Star Wars is now ruined for Jake Lloyd, who burned all his SW stuff, quit acting to become an editor, and gets very uncomfortable whenever it’s brought up.
That’s pretty depressing. And you know what the worst part is?
It’s 100% undeserved.
|"Why would you make me sad?"|
Now, it would be impossible for me to sit here and tell you that every single second of Jake’s performance was pitch-perfect. Why is that? Because he was at the time a child actor. Every child actor I’ve ever seen, even the Oscar-nominated ones, has at least one scene or two where, for whatever reason, they just don’t seem to get everything together believably. One or two scenes that would have benefitted from another retake or twenty.
What differentiates a good child actor performance from a bad one is the amount of such scenes that exist. And in that respect, Jake Lloyd gave an incredible performance as Anakin Skywalker.
|"I'm sorry, can we do another take? My inflection as good that time, but I'm not convinced my face was listening to me"|
I’ve said before there’s only one scene of his that still bugs me, and that’s the goodbye speech to C-3PO. And even then, the more I watch it, the more I see what he was going for there. He’s distracted by his sadness of having to leave his mother, so he’s being uncharacteristically cold to his creation as he struggles to come to terms with his feelings. Unfortunately, in the final cut, he just seems emotionally inconsistent instead of emotionally struggling. But you know what? It’s forgivable.
It’s forgivable because the rest of it is spot on. Anyone who tells you different doesn’t realize just what kind of character Anakin is at this point. Anakin is a happy-go-lucky, over-emotional little nine-year-old boy. He loves having a purpose, he loves helping people, and he loves his mother. Once that is taken away from him, he has a hard time coming to terms with himself and his new surroundings.
And Jake Lloyd absolutely NAILS that, even when speaking Huttese (ESPECIALLY when speaking Huttese).
|"Hascrewmie dopot, sleimo!"|
Jake Lloyd’s problem was never that his acting was substandard in any way, at least in comparison to other child actors. Jake’s problem would be the same as would plague Hayden Christensen later on: the audience did not expect Darth Vader to be anything like that. They expected something so different that when they didn’t get it, they blamed the actor.
|"Yes, I've got mud on my face, but that doesn't make me a big disgrace!"|
Well, no more. I’m not standing for Jake-bashing anymore. Stop it, all of you. Jake, or is it “Mr. Lloyd” now? You’re pretty much all grown up at this point, but I’m hoping this finds its way to you, because I want you to know that someone appreciates your work in the Saga. Someone out there loves your work in the Saga.
|"What does your heart tell you?"|
It’s pretty wizard.