Star Wars Almost Cast Leonardo DiCaprio As Anakin Skywalker

Leonardo DiCaprio was almost Star Wars’ Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones, but he ultimately turned down the role – and this is why.

Leonardo DiCaprio was almost cast as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, but this is why he ultimately decided against taking the role. Anakin has become one of the most famous and divisive characters in the Star Wars galaxy. While the terrifying man-turned-machine Darth Vader in the original trilogy was wildly popular, his prequel origin story wasn’t so well-received at the time. Many people thought that his character was whiny and poorly written. However, as the children of the prequel era have grown up, the character of Anakin has become more popular than ever.

It’s since been revealed that George Lucas wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play Anakin. DiCaprio even had a meeting with Lucas about the role. However, DiCaprio ultimately decided to turn Lucas down, and Canadian actor Hayden Christensen ended up playing the famous character instead. There was a reason for DiCaprio turning down the role that he has since explained.

Leonardo DiCaprio Didn’t Feel Ready To Join The Star Wars Galaxy

Anakin Skywalker staring at the camera with a hood on and an angry look on his face right after he agreed to become Palpatine's apprentice in Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the SithWhen speaking with Short List, the famous actor stated that he turned down playing Anakin Skywalker for the same reason he turned down playing Robin in Batman Forever – he didn’t feel ready. DiCaprio explained that diving into the Star Wars universe was not something he felt prepared for at the time. As such, he chose to turn down the role despite already being a renowned actor.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Other Commitments Got In The Way

Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis standing next to each other in Gangs of New York

DiCaprio had another reason for turning down the role of Anakin Skywalker. When asked about this in Star Wars Insider #49, producer Rick McCallum explained that “Leo is committed to doing the new Martin Scorsese film.” The movie McCallum spoke of was Gangs of New York, which was also released in 2002. As such, DiCaprio simply didn’t have the time to play Anakin. After all, doing multiple movies at once is difficult, especially if both are starring roles. DiCaprio’s commitment to working on Gangs of New York took priority.

Christensen’s Star Wars legacy speaks for him and proves that this choice was, ultimately, the correct one.

As wonderful of an actor as Leonardo DiCaprio is, Hayden Christensen was the perfect choice to play Anakin Skywalker. Christensen understood something very important about Anakin: he is a very traumatized person in a fantastical setting who isn’t going to speak or behave like somebody in the real world. Anakin is someone who has faced intense trauma and dehumanization as a slave but has been forced to repress his emotional response to that. Christensen’s Star Wars legacy speaks for him and proves that this choice was, ultimately, the correct one.

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