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Actors Who Were Never The Same After Their Star Wars Roles

These days, there are all sorts of intellectual properties with dedicated fanbases whose lives have been greatly influenced by the fictional universe they love. Since "Star Wars" is among the first of these monumental, fictional universes, the films have deeply affected a great number of people, but it is the lives of the actors performing in such massive productions that have been impacted the most.

However, appearing in one of the greatest sci-fi sagas of all time has not been the same experience for the entire cast. For some, the hugely successful movies skyrocketed their careers into becoming megastars within Hollywood. On the other hand, there are others whose lives were almost ruined for becoming involved, a decision that was then regretted for the rest of their lives. For better or worse, appearing in a "Star Wars" film has turned several actors' lives completely upside down; here are the most extreme examples.

Jake Lloyd

It would be hard to argue that appearing in the "Star Wars" films negatively affected an actor's life more than Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar Binks, but Jake Lloyd would be considered by most to be a close second. The child actor had the role of the young Anakin Skywalker in the first movie of the prequel trilogy, "The Phantom Menace," and he despised the experience.  

Lloyd revealed in an interview (via Daily Mail), "My entire school life was really a living hell," adding, "Other children were really mean to me. They would make the sound of the light saber every time they saw me. It was totally mad." On top of the cruel treatment from his peers in class, there were other aspects of his near-instant fame that he hated as well, such as being required to give 60 interviews in a single day.

Starring in the film caused Lloyd to lose any desire he ever had to work in the entertainment industry, so he retired at a young age and even got rid of any stuff he owned that was related to the franchise. To stress his deep resentment over the matter and the finality of his decision to never act again, he has also said, "I've learned to hate it when the cameras are pointed at me." It is the sad, but honest truth because, aside from the 2001 drama film, "Madison," Lloyd never appeared in another movie again (per IMDb).

Hayden Christensen

Even though Hayden Christensen enjoyed his time as Anakin Skywalker in both "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," it did come with a major challenge that he struggled with. Prior to his entrance into the "Star Wars" universe, Christensen had not yet appeared in any major film, telling The Guardian: "It was a lot to adjust to. Usually, people have a more gradual ascent into that world and mine was very abrupt."

After 2005, Christensen's celebrity status didn't deter him from taking on future roles, but it certainly caused him to take a step back and make sure that his life did not revolve around the film industry. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, the actor explained, "I guess I felt like I had this great thing in 'Star Wars' that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me. I didn't want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave."

For the actor, the best way to move forward was to purchase a 200-acre farm near Toronto that he could escape to, and the decision seems to have worked out great for him. Christensen never completely left Hollywood, as he returned to the industry periodically on his own terms. Christensen's long break from the franchise also meant that when he was called back for the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series, he was very excited to reprise the role.

David Prowse

David Prowse had a particularly conflicted relationship with the "Star Wars" franchise because even though he definitely does not regret playing the imposing figure of Darth Vader in the original trilogy, his experience on set was far from pleasant. First off, he was not only blindsided by the fact that James Earl Jones would be the true voice of the character, but he was also shocked to discover that when Vader removes his helmet in "Return of the Jedi," Sebastian Shaw was the actor the audience would see. Then, to make matters worse, a stuntman was brought in to film most of his scenes.

Unfortunately, Prowse did not make his situation any better since he was strongly linked to major spoilers; both that Vader would die in the last film, and the even bigger reveal that he was Luke's father (via Retroist). The actor attempted to defend himself, but the scandals caused a significant rift between him and the filmmakers that never healed.

Yet despite all the negativity, the good outweighed the bad for Prowse, who told The Void, "I'm grateful for everything that's happened to me from 'Star Wars.' It altered my career completely." In November 2020, Prowse's management company confirmed that the actor passed away at the age of 85.

Natalie Portman

Over the years, Natalie Portman has become an incredibly prolific actress with quite a few standout performances. Her roles in films like "Black Swan" in 2010, and "Jackie" in 2016, were praised so highly that she received awards and nominations from both the Academy and the Golden Globes (via IMDb). However, near the beginning of her career, right after the actress finished playing Padme Amidala in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy, her future did not look so bright.

In an interview with NY Mag, Portman described her difficult situation at the time, saying, "'Star Wars' had come out around the time of 'Seagull,' and everyone thought I was a horrible actress. I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me." Fortunately, that did not remain the case for long, as the actress managed to land the lead role in the acclaimed drama, "V for Vendetta" in 2005. Yet her appearances in the epic space opera must have made her wary of blockbuster-type films, for aside from the "Thor" flicks, she has steered clear of them.

Mark Hamill

After the release of "A New Hope," Mark Hamill thought he would no longer be able to appear on screen, but it wasn't because of anything that happened on set or in the film. The actor's life was altered dramatically when he survived a brutal car accident in 1977 that left him with a fractured nose and cheek. Hamill later revealed in an interview (via Just the Best) what happened after he woke up in the hospital: "Then someone held a mirror up to my face and I just felt that my career was over."

The actor was extremely lucky that reconstructive surgery allowed him to complete the original trilogy as Luke Skywalker, however, he never again landed another role with as much significance as the pivotal "Star Wars" character. To Hamill, that was mostly intentional, as he told The Washington Post, "To me it made sense. I had a part that made such an impression on people that I felt I had to break that impression."

On the other hand, Hamill was also frustrated with the fact that the projects he did take on outside of the sci-fi epics never received much recognition: "I come up on the short end of the stick because I haven't achieved what Harrison's [Ford] achieved. But not even getting credit for the stuff you did do, that surprised me. I take the theater scene seriously."

Harrison Ford

Aside from the stars of the sequel trilogy, like Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, whose careers are still closer to the beginning, it would be hard to argue that another actor benefited more from the "Star Wars" series than Harrison Ford. Before the actor landed the role as Han Solo in "A New Hope," he struggled to make a living in the film industry and even had to work part-time as a carpenter (per Yahoo! Entertainment).

When describing the period right before his rise to fame, Ford explained, "Through carpentry, I fed my family and began to pick and choose from among the roles offered. I could afford to hold out until something better came along. But I never gave up my ambition to be an actor. I was frustrated but never felt defeated by my frustration." It seems like that plan of action was fate because it led to him forming a connection with George Lucas, and the rest is history.

The sci-fi epics drastically changed Ford's life, however, and laid the foundation for him to star in further classics like "Blade Runner" and "Indiana Jones." The actor then became one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood and has retained that status ever since.

Daisy Ridley

Appearing in "The Force Awakens" as Rey Skywalker was a massive step for Daisy Ridley in her career mostly because she previously had never been in a film (per Elle). Such as for the two trilogies before it, an unknown actor was cast as the protagonist, which was a highly beneficial move both for the "Star Wars" franchise and for Ridley herself as well. So, almost instantaneously, she went from being a bartender to one of the most talked about actresses in Hollywood.  

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ridley described what it was like to first be a part of the franchise, as well as her situation afterward: "I feel like I was ... not starting again, but in a way, I'd joined something that was always bigger than I ever was. It's this huge thing that I slotted into, and when it was finished it was a real time of recalibration."

The pandemic may have been troublesome, as it was for everyone else on the planet, but life beyond "The Last Jedi" has gone well for Ridley. Not only has she starred in 2023's "Sometimes I Think About Dying," but she also has had the opportunity to collaborate with her husband, Tom Bateman, to both produce and play a leading role in the upcoming thriller, "Magpie" (per Deadline).

Adam Driver

Prior to his role as Kylo Ren in "The Force Awakens," Adam Driver was not nearly as prominent within the film industry. While the "Star Wars" epics were not his first major productions — having previously appeared in the Steven Spielberg drama, "Lincoln," along with the popular HBO series, "Girls,"– but his career did not truly take off until the sequel trilogy (per Far Out).

Throughout the transitional period and beyond, Driver has only become more famous and accomplished, consistently rising to higher levels in this profession without significant drawbacks. In an interview with the French magazine, Premium (via starwarsnewsnet.com), he explained, "It's not changed my life in a bad way, or in a way where I feel I have lost a part of myself ... I am content with how it's played out, and I don't feel negatively impacted by what has obviously been a big elevation in my career. But I can see how that does happen to some people, and it's the risk you take when you put yourself in the spotlight".

Anthony Daniels

Anthony Daniels' life has been altered by "Star Wars" more than many of the other actors who have appeared in the films simply because no other performer has devoted as much of their career to the franchise. As C-3PO, Daniels was in all nine of the three trilogies, along with a substantial amount of the spin-off productions (per the Independent), including "The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special" and the VR game, "Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy's Edge," which were both released in 2020.

And if Daniels has things his way, he will continue to play the lovable droid for as long as he is able. When talking with CinemaBlend, he admitted, "I'm never going to retire. They're going to have to throw me out the door ... Life is not over, the films, may be taking a back seat for 3PO, for a very very long time, I would think. But there's all sorts of other media, particularly now with digital formats, that I'm so happy, and grateful and proud to be part of."

Kenny Baker

Kenny Baker is another actor with an impressive "Star Wars" career since he played R2-D2 in all six of the movies in the original and prequel trilogies. Like several other members of the cast, he also frequently attended conventions to meet with fans and reunite with friends from the films. Though most of these moments were very enjoyable for the actor, Baker could not say the same for any time he had to interact on set with his onscreen companion, Anthony Daniels.

Baker later revealed the extent to which he and Daniels did not get along, and made it clear that no one else had ever treated him with such disrespect in his life. When talking with Hollywood.com, the actor recalled, "Once when I said hello to him, he just turned his back on me and said, 'Can't you see I'm having a conversation?' I was blazing with rage. It was the rudest thing anyone had ever done to me. I was furious. It was unbelievable."

On another occasion, Daniels was just as cruel when Baker asked if he would like to tour together for personal appearances with fans. Baker told the Metro, "He looked down his nose at me like I was a piece of s***. He said: 'I don't do many of these conventions — go away little man.'" In August 2016, it was confirmed that Baker had died in his sleep at 81 after suffering from a lung condition.

Alec Guinness

By the time Alec Guinness appeared in "A New Hope," he was already a highly respected Academy Award-winning actor. So, it would be accurate to say that he did not consider his role in the "Star Wars" film to be a major accomplishment for his career, but that would actually be putting it mildly. In fact, the esteemed thespian probably would have preferred to have not played Obi-Wan Kenobi at all.

When George Lucas asked Guinness to return in further installments, he was extremely reluctant, saying, "I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo" (via Entertainment Weekly). Eventually, the actor gave in though, and later showed how much he regretted that decision in a few somewhat darkly amusing ways. Not only did he refuse to open the abundant fan mail sent to him, but he also even told a boy once that he would only give out an autograph if the young fan never watched "Star Wars" again, which made the child cry.

Guinness may have thought little of the franchise, but there is no doubt that he benefited immensely from it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the contract he managed to secure was so lucrative that he earned a total of $95 million from the gross sales of the successful movies, which was a life-changing sum of money for the actor and made him very comfortable going into retirement.

Ahmed Best

No cast member of the "Star Wars" saga had a more tragic outcome because of their involvement in the franchise than Ahmed Best. In an interview with Wired, the actor described the extent of the completely despicable harassment he received from so-called fans after his performance as Jar Jar Binks in "The Phantom Menace: "I had death threats through the internet. I had people come to me and say, 'You destroyed my childhood.' That's difficult for a 25-year-old to hear."

To Best, one of the worst parts was that the vitriolic comments only seemed to be aimed in his direction. The actor added, "There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain, there was a lot of s*** I had to deal with. Everybody else went on. Everybody else worked. Everybody else was accepted by the zeitgeist."

In the decades following the completion of the prequel trilogy, Best was able to move on and overcome the extreme adversity he faced for playing the controversial character. But he will never forget how bad his mental health became from the terrible level of criticism sent his way. On Twitter in 2018, the actor made a post with the heartbreaking admission, "20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It's still hard to talk about."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.