Being cast as the lead in one of the most beloved/anticipated/expectation-filled series of all time is probably no easy feat. But for most people the open door that inevitably follows such a gig would be one of those happy dance-inducing moments that make 'em feel full of win and wondrous possibility. Not so much for Hayden Christensen.
In fact, becoming the sand-hating, power-hungry Anakin Skywalker for George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequel trilogy did nothing but steer him away from the fame game ... for a while, at least.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times supporting Christensen's return to the cinema in the faith-centric film "90 Minutes in Heaven," the actor explained why there's a notable period of time missing from his filmography -- and how the Dark Side is to blame for it.
Apparently, being plucked for the fanfare-filled film series at the tender age of 19 made Christensen feel like he hadn't earned his place in Tinseltown just yet.
"I guess I felt like I had this great thing in 'Star Wars' that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me," he told LA Times. "I didn't want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave."
Although Christensen appeared in other pics after "Episode III" hit theaters on 2005 -- including the action flick which would feature him alongside his future wife and baby mama Rachel Bilson, "Jumper" -- he eventually took up residence on a piece of farmland far, far away from the "Star Wars" galaxy and Hollywood at large for a spell.
But now he's back and ready to "claw" his way back into the game so he'll feel like he's "earned it" -- even if his hiatus may or may not have had something to do with Anakin's removal from "Episode VII" plans.
"You can't take years off and not have it affect your career," he admitted. "But I don't know — in a weird, sort of destructive way, there was something appealing about that to me. There was something in the back of my head that was like, 'If this time away is gonna be damaging to my career, then so be it. If I can come back afterward and claw my way back in, then maybe I'll feel like I earned it.'"
Meanwhile, another "Jumper" alum Kristen Stewart, who also has a franchise under her Chanel belt, has been quietly emerging as one of the more resilient post-franchise actors in the biz.
The L.A. Times quotes "Twilight" studio exec Nancy Kirkpatrick to note that K.Stew is back to her old self, now that the Twihard frenzy has settled down a little bit.
"Now I watch her in interviews and feel like I'm actually seeing the real Kristen, but that's taken a long time," she said. "She has an amazing team and publicist. She's practiced. But she also just grew up."
In fact, Kristen's now the one dishing out sound advice to her successors in sudden fame, including "The Force Awakens" star Daisy Ridley.
She offered some sage wisdom for the new space crew, including Daisy, on how to cope with all the in-your-face attention that comes with the job in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying, "Focus on the fact that you're stoked 'cause you're doing the work that you want to do. It's literally mainly just about focusing on what makes you happy. And if losing your anonymity or whatever doesn't make you happy, then focus on something else."