The Anakin Moment You Didn’t See in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith’s Younglings Scene


You don’t have to go too far into the biographies of bad boy New Hollywood directors to find examples of impropriety. William Friedkin tossing around poor Linda Blair for The Exorcist. Francis Ford Coppola going full Kurtz for Apocalypse Now. Paul Schrader doing… well, Paul Schrader things. But there’s one guy who doesn’t fit the bill, despite palling around with the others: George Lucas.

For better or worse, the soft-spoken and intellectual Lucas doesn’t seem to push his actors to extremes (well, there were a few not okay comments to Carrie Fisher). And yet, that’s exactly what had to happen for perhaps the most upsetting scene in Lucas’s oeuvre, the slaughter of the Jedi younglings in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

For those who don’t recall, the slaughter of the Younglings signaled the final step in Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side, the point where he committed himself to the path of Darth Vader, a path he would not leave until Luke redeemed him in Return of the Jedi. The off-screen mass murder of children was incredibly shocking for a Star Wars movie to say the least. It’s still arguably the darkest moment in the nine-movie Skywalker saga. As you’d expect, it wasn’t an easy scene for Anakin actor Hayden Christensen, especially when it came to performing alongside child actors. In fact, there’s a moment in the making of that scene that fans never saw in the finished product.

Speaking to Empire Magazine, Christensen recalled the difficulty in pulling off the proper horror of the Youngling slaughter scene. “When we were filming that, we were having a hard time getting the reaction that we wanted from the kid,” he admitted. “And so I shouted, or growled at him, because we needed a genuine moment of him being startled. It got the response that we needed, and it makes that scene work really well.”

Why, one might wonder, would Christensen make such a confession now, of all times, when a critical reevaluation of the Prequel Trilogy has resulted in an outpouring of goodwill. As he told Empire, he went from a relative unknown (sadly, his small parts in excellent movies such as John Carpenter‘s In the Mouth of Madness or Sofia Coppola‘s The Virgin Suicides didn’t boost his profile) to starring in one of the decade’s biggest movies.

Part of the reason is that, on the very long list of bad behavior in Hollywood, a shout is pretty tame. The other reason is that Christensen owned up to it and made it right. “I saw him years later,” he said of the actor. “I said, ‘Sorry about how that went.'”

Whether or not the actor accepted the apology goes unsaid. However, it is clear that the scene had its intended effect, without alienating Christensen from young fans of the film. “Kids seem to forget about that scene when they meet me!” he said. “There’s not any fear or intimidation. They’re just excited to meet Anakin.”

Does that result justify the means to get it? It’s hard to say, especially for a movie that isn’t quite The Exorcist or Apocalypse Now. But even in this case, it seems like Lucas dodges the bad behavior bullet once again. And Christensen is proud of the scene, too: “There was a lot of talk about us doing that scene, and I love that George did it. It was a bold move. And it’s shocking.”

The post The Anakin Moment You Didn’t See in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith’s Younglings Scene appeared first on Den of Geek.

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