And off we go. My hands are clasped around Christensen’s waist (riding bitch, I believe the term is) as we skim and stutter over the snowy landscape. Now and then he shouts something above the roar of the engine. (“This is where I’m going to build the new house,” he says, “and maybe I’ll turn that other one into a guesthouse!”) It’s odd, and kind of exhilarating, and kind of enfeebling, to be riding over tundra with Anakin Skywalker; I feel, for better or worse, like a kid from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
He can’t help but rev the motor and speed us recklessly over a rise. As we jolt forward, I console myself with the fact that Hayden Christensen has a lot more riding on keeping his face intact than I have invested in mine. Finally, he swings the snowmobile back toward his house. He has snow spray crusted just under his nose, and a big smile. He looks not unlike Luke back on Hoth. He strips off his goggles and lets loose a war whoop. “I try to do that at least once a day,” he says. I can see whyif only as a daily affirmation that out here, beyond the staring strangers and the worries about career moves and typecasting and what might come next, there are still a few basic benefits of choosing stardomnamely freedom, and acreage, and toys. If he needs further affirmation, he can always check above the crackled cabinets. Up there, he has a series of large metal letters that spell out a motto: ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM. “It was a saying among soldiers in World War II,” he explains. “It means ‘Don’t let the bastards get you down.’”