Most unfortunately for Christensen, it turns out that starring in a three-part space opera is a really good way to convince the world you’re a terrible actor. He earned back some fans in 2003 with his smart portrait of journalistic fabulist Stephen Glass in Shattered Glass, but how many people saw that, compared with Star Wars? Anakin Skywalker is what moviegoers remember. “How those movies are made is very specific, as far as what our jobs are,” he says, with a bit of a shrug. “George isn’t looking for us to come in and have script meetings with him and talk about characters.”
In other words, Hayden Christensen wants you to know he can do better. Starting with Jumper. Sure, it’s a sci-fi, pseudo-superhero film too, but it’s got heart. And Liman has an impressive track record when it comes to what he does for actors: Before The Bourne Identity, few people thought of Matt Damon as an ass-whupping stud. If Jumper does well, we may see a Bourne-like trilogy.
Of course Christensen is grateful to Star Wars. If he could go back and do it all over, he wouldn’t change a thing. Just don’t ask him to do it all again. “It wasn’t necessarily anything you could feel good about creatively, as far as ‘This is why I became an actor,’” he says of his work in Star Wars. He puffs on a cigarette. “It’s not why you become an actor, to do stuff like that.”
But enough about George Lucas: Let’s talk about kitchen cabinets. There’s a new set in the house, which Christensen just refinished himself. “You put down a coat of black, then a coat of this special crackle finish, then a coat of white over that,” he says, explaining how he got the shabby-chic look. He has plenty of projects to keep him busyhe’s planting trees, clearing fields, moving earth. He’s hoping to plant some lavender fields. “It doesn’t require much maintenance, but apparently it’s a bitch to harvest, because you have to cut it all by hand,” he says. He’s even thinking of acquiring some livestock. “Start off with some cattle and horses, then get a little more inventive. Get some sheep, some goats. Maybe an alpaca.”
And when you’re young, and you make $7 million a picture, and you’ve got a little time on your hands, you can afford to have a little fun. We put on snowsuits and stomp through the snow to the shed next to Christensen’s place. He opens the door to reveal a playpen crammed with gadgets: a brand-new tractor, a few ATVs, and, most important for our purposes, two new snowmobiles.
A few minutes later we head out, with acres of virgin snow in front of us and just one problem: I’ve broken Hayden Christensen’s snowmobile. I don’t know what happened. It was running fine but then stalled. He swings back on his snowmobile, dismounts, and takes a look. Smoke billows from the front of my snowmobile. “Hmmmm,” he says. “Why don’t you just ride on mine?”