With the exception of Jar-Jar, Jake Lloyd in the role of Anakin Skywalker is possibly the most frequent criticism of The Phantom Menace, a criticism which I think is pretty unfair.
First of all, could any other eight-year-old who have done a better job? The role got Lloyd’s performance as the central character in the Star Wars saga a ton of attention, but it was an introductory role to the character… what did everyone expect? At this point in the story he’s a young slave on a desolate world who is filled with awe and adventure, and, in this respect, I think he did a pretty good job. (And the “Yipee!” criticism is so ridiculous – if you’re going to criticise anyone for it, criticise the guy who actually wrote it.)
I’m really not doing this thread to be awkward or anything – I genuinely don’t know why he got so much crap for his performance. To anyone who thinks he was indeed an abomination, please share your thoughts.
I thought he was indeed an abomination. Not much more to say, really. Flabby line readings, sullen and pouty and whiny. If this was the best that Lucas could find, he should have kept on looking. The kid’s no Haley Joel Osment or Freddie Highmore.
To be fair, few child actors have such a dreadful script or such a dreadful director guiding them.
I put the blame solely on Lucas and not Lloyd. First of all, he was cast too young. Child performers who excell, like Osment and Henry Thomas in E.T., tend to be a couple years older, but those couple years are huge when it comes to allowing a child to hit character notes. Furthermore, if Lucas is getting a wooden performance from a fine actress like Natalie Portman, what kind of direction could he be offering this youngster? Clearly, nothing of value.
Agreed about Lloyd being younger than Osment Highmore Thomas etc. A couple of years evidently made a lot of difference, as does a half-decent script and intelligent direction. Poor little Jake never had a chance.
From Wikipedia, for what it’s worth:
Lloyd retired from acting in 2001. In 2012, he cited bullying on the part of classmates and the stress of doing many interviews as the reasons for his retirement from acting. He also destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia and refuses to even watch the films because he finds them too “creepy.”5
Lloyd currently resides in Chicago.
…I hope, but doubt, that the little guy received some profit participation from Lucas — or at least some residuals for lending his voice to the innumerable video games — as compensation for having to live down his role in that picture. It is well known that child actors who are unable to adjust often have an incredibly difficult life. The notable exceptions are few — Kurt Russell and Jodie Foster come to mind, although I’m sure you can think of others. Many, though, struggle with their fame and their fortunes, which in some cases have been woefully mismanaged by their parents or guardians.
Read about the life of Jackie Coogan for a sad example of this phenomenon. The kid was a multi-millionaire by the time he was 15 in 1929 (possibly worth as much as $100 million when adjusted for inflation). He was destitute by the time he reached adulthood, thanks to his mom and her second husband, who spent almost all of it. The remainder of his career was spent toiling in Z-movie hell (see: Mesa of Lost Women), with a modest resurrection in the old Addams Family TV show. It’s a sad story.
The law protecting child actors in California is still referred to as the Coogan Act.
I think a pretty good biopic could be made of Lloyd!
I didn’t think the casting was the problem there.
More the writing. Though none of the three had any particularly strong performances.
He speaks every other word as if it were in itallics.
“You mean I get to go with you on your spaceship?”
That plus the blank stare. I’m aware Lucas didn’t do him any favors but he was not believable as a human being.
Please, folks, there’s no need to bash Lloyd. He was a kid when he was sold to a billionaire childman and manipulated. Could’ve happened to anyone.
Paul Petersen, a fantastic guy and a former kid star himself on The Donna Reed Show, helms an organization in L.A. called A Minor Concern that helps a lot of child actors through the pitfalls of fame.
I agree with Miasma, the kid was fine and does not deserve to be bashed. As someone who was 12 when the original Star Wars was released, but also someone who never treated it as some kind of new religion, the “new” films just weren’t all that great. Enjoyable fluff, at best.
For my money the best child performance under the age of ten was the kid in Kramer v. Kramer. And then Tatum O’Neal.
^Wait until you see Beasts of the Southern Wild.
I’m not bashing him. I haven’t passed any moral judgment on him and I’m certainly sympathetic to the plight of child stars being exploited by their greedy, disgusting, pathetic excuses for parents (even Lindsay Lohan) but that doesn’t change the fact his performance was terrible. It uncomfortably straddled the line between a bad performance and a non performance and was detrimental to the overall effect of the film. Of course, on the list of things that are wrong with The Phantom Menace it is closer to the bottom than it is to the top.
lloyd was very good, he was also good in Deconstrucing Harry
Yeah, don’t get me wrong, the performance wasn’t great by any means, but I can think of some far far worse performances that didn’t get half as much crap.
He is not really any aw shucks goofier than mark hamill
I dont think so and he was a kid, Hamill was a childish adult in those films
What are you all talking about?
Does anyone of have kids?
I have 2 boys, and can tell you that kids are enthusIastic, spontaneous, funny and whitty and ho my also whiny… And so so yippeeeee…..
I think Jake played exactly that role and played it well. He appealed to my younger crowd as the hero to be emulated.
But hey this is just my opinion… Just an average viewer… The average person that goes to the movies to enjoy a great movie. Not the critic wannabe that has to kill every bit of joy.
Yes, yes, hell yes…….thread over. I spit some of my beer out I was laughing so hard.
When I first saw The Phantom Menace I walked out of the theater with the impression that the kid put on a pretty damn good performance and with my most recent viewing I would have to stand by that especially compared to Portman, Neeson and McGregor’s performances which are all very weak and stiff and are becoming more laughable with each viewing. But I still love the movie. I love all the Star Wars films.
Lloyd’s performance is the epitome of bad acting—he always sounds like he’s reading the lines, and the lines were bad to begin with, so this gets exacerbated. You wonder how he was ever cast with readings that poor, but then you look at the film as a whole and it’s clear that bad decisions were the order of the day. Most of the film, with the exception of the swordfights and bits of the podrace are completely unwatchable.
i find mark hamill pretty unwatchable (ahh dennis beat me to it…)
Mark Hamill is a good voice actor.
I think the problem isn’t necessarily with his performance, though I would disagree that he’s anything more than whiny, certainly not enthusiastic, or funny, but rather that this film turned a mythology, a dream, into boring facts.
The “force” is just microbes.
The love that produced Luke and Leia was basically just child molestation.
The corruption that produces a galaxy-wide totalitarian state was merely political positioning.
And a racial stereotype defeated the evil Federation.
It’s offensive to those that grew up with that mythology, boring to those that haven’t.
I actually think that Lucas is to blame on this one. He should’ve kept looking for someone better for the role.