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What Rachel Bilson Tells Her Daughter About Father Hayden Christensen Playing A Star Wars Villain

The dating life of celebrities has always been a source of perverse fascination. Long hours on set and pretending to be in love with your co-star for months at a time can be a recipe for romance — be it Ben Affleck with Jennifer Garner or Ben Affleck with Jennifer Lopez. And while prolific movie stars can be captivating, there is nothing like the most mid-aughts couple of all. Fresh off of her stint in iconic teen melodrama, "The O.C.," Rachel Bilson starred in a little-known film called "Jumper."

Though it had the star power of Summer Roberts herself — in addition to Hayden Christensen post "Star Wars" fame — "Jumper" didn't exactly blow audiences out of the water. It did, however, unite Christensen and Bilson for a brief period of time. Christensen fans may not know that the on-again-off-again couple was together long enough to have a daughter together, Briar Rose. Now a decade and a half after their meeting, Bilson is on her "The O.C." podcast while Christensen has returned to the Force as Darth Vader in "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and the upcoming series "Ahsoka." Darth Vader returning to pop culture in such a significant way has fanned the flames surrounding him and caused Bilson to instruct her daughter in the ways of the Sith.

It's not all about the Dark Side

Whether you love or hate the Star Wars prequels, there is no doubt that Anakin Skywalker is put through a heartbreaking crucible. Though his turn to Darth Vader in "Revenge of the Sith" may be divisive, there is no doubt that it also happened to be the result of excruciating irony. Groomed from an early age by Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Anakin's turn to the Dark Side results from the Jedi High Council keeping him at arm's length for fear of what he may become. This leaves him open to Palpatine's manipulation. Anakin's propensity for a good heart has always been evident. This is something that Rachel Bilson has wanted to stress to her daughter now that she is getting old enough to comprehend her father's fame.

"[Y]ou know, kids are starting to be like, 'Is your dad Darth Vader?' You know, like, that's starting to happen at school and stuff. It's so weird," Bilson shared on "Life Is Short With Justin Long." She went on to say: "She doesn't know what it actually means. She doesn't know he's, like, the villain or whatever. I'm like, 'Yeah, no, he's Anakin Skywalker!'" Many people may consider Anakin and Darth Vader one and the same, but the distinction was important to Bilson as a mother. Long went on to joke that Christensen is the famous villain before he turns evil.

"He's Anakin," Bilson stressed. "Anakin!"

The Clone Wars rehabilitated Anakin's image in a big way

When looking at the trajectory of Anakin's character, it is admittedly difficult to get past the child murder of it all. Anakin killing the younglings at the Jedi Temple cements his path as Darth Vader and can be hard to excuse. But the brilliance of "The Clone Wars" isn't necessarily to excuse his future behavior but paint a complete picture of The Chosen One. 

In Dave Filoni's animated series, we see that Anakin and Obi-Wan had a fraternal relationship, despite the constant bickering between them in the live-action films. Anakin teaches Ahsoka how to be one of the most competent force-wielders while also viewing the clones as people when many others in the world don't. (Looking at you, General Krell.) Anakin's complexity and innate goodness ultimately make his fate tragic. Such an integral viewing practice for fans that even Hayden Christensen decided to educate himself in preparation for returning to the mask in "Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"They did a lot with these characters in ['The Clone Wars' and 'Rebels']. And they did further explore the relationship," Christensen noted to Entertainment Weekly. "There was interesting stuff there to learn about. It was great fun getting to go back and re-immerse yourself in this world that just continues to grow and become more and more vast." Anakin is vindicated in the animated series, and it is finally time to explore that in live-action when Christensen returns in "Ahsoka."