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Unhappy endings for the child actor who played Anakin Skywalker

The media has exploited Jake Lloyd for most of his life.

Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin in The Phantom Menace, interviewed as a grown man in 2009:

This video makes me cringe. I’m not sure exactly why Lloyd is so bitter, but he clearly can’t disguise his disgust. It doesn’t help that the delighted “reporter” goads him on so shamelessly. Seriously, who ends an interview with this?

Before we let you go, child stars get a bit of a reputation; they turn to, y’know, a life of drugs, so may the Force be with you.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised; the media has exploited Jake Lloyd for most of his life. Back in 1999, Jake navigated the press junkets as well as any kid his age could. But if it’s hard for adult actors to navigate that world, it’s impossible for a ten-year-old boy. Watch this awkward interview, inexplicably conducted on a pastel-colored bed. When Jake voices the vain hope that he’ll be cast in Episode II, the crew chackles from behind the camera. Jake looks instantly crestfallen.

Throughout the ensuing exchange, Jake self-consciously projects a precocious, cute persona, but the performance feels off—almost over-rehearsed. In retrospect, a child that young should never have been asked to do dozens of interviews a day for weeks on end.

For a more recent example of exploitation, take this TMZ piece from last summer. The host can hardly contain his glee as he relays news of Lloyd’s arrest for reckless driving. Who knew you could fit so many podracing references into a two-minute video?

I can muster far more sympathy for Jake Lloyd than for Alec Guinness (who also came to resent his Star Wars fame). When Lloyd was cast, he couldn’t possibly have understood how the role would “dominate his destiny”. Like many child actors, he was ill-equipped to handle the spotlight’s glare.