‘Shattered Glass’ and the Shattered Career of Hayden Christensen

Outside of 'Star Wars,' Hayden Christensen really had something going for himself.

by Kali Tuttle
Shattered Glass

After acting in Star WarsHayden Christensen never really broke out of that mold. Outside of the space adventures, most people would be hard-pressed to name another Hayden Christensen movie. May I present to you Shattered Glass, an example of the shining actor Christensen was meant to be.

Shattered Glass tells the story of Stephen Glass, a former reporter for The New Republic who fabricated many of the stories he wrote for the magazine. Based on a true story, Glass uses his entertaining way of telling stories and his self-deprecating manner to dupe the public.

Christensen turns in an amazing performance in this film. It should be one of the films that people most remember him for, but it isn’t, which is a shame.

Pleasantly Surprised

Normally, before I watch any movie, I read the plot summary so I know what’s going on. I forgot to do that with Shattered Glass, which turned out to be the right move. Watching the film, I was completely on Glass’s side because I trusted his self-demeaning attitude and his humorous anecdotes. It didn’t occur to me that he could have been lying, which is a testament to Christensen’s ability to coerce the audience.

When it became clear that Glass had lied about a number of his stories, I had a hard time believing it to be true. I trusted Christensen’s easy smile and boyish demeanor too easily. Christensen perfectly portrays a conman who can even con the audience.

Of course, Christensen’s performance is in the middle of a mix of other great performances, including from powerhouse Peter Sarsgaard. The whole cast is beautiful together but Christensen goes that extra mile to make sure the audience is on his side up until the very last second.

Anakin Writes at The New Republic

It’s hard not to see vestiges of the famed Jedi leak into Christensen’s performance in Shattered Glass. The dramatic Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones can easily be seen in this film. Our main character has the same sense of immaturity and angst that Anakin has. It’s easy to like him because of this youthful attitude because it’s relatable.

The same cunning and deceiving manner is also present in Shattered Glass. Anakin lies to the Jedi Order about his relationship with Padme; Glass lies to his editor about the credibility and existence of his sources. The people around the character believe him easily, though, because he is so disarmingly charming, even if a bit awkward.

Glass doesn’t have the same lightsaber-wielding techniques that Anakin has, but he has the same prowess with words that Anakin has with a weapon. Much like the lightsaber battles of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Glass throws a lot of flashiness at the audience but if you look closer, there’s not a lot connecting. (Side note: I love the prequel lightsaber battles and this is in no way a dig at them).

Stuck in a Rut

Like a lot of actors in franchise films, Hayden Christensen got caught up in his most famous role. Now, it’s hard for him to act in anything else without people referring to him as Anakin. No matter how different the film he acts in is different from Star Wars, the haunted Jedi follows him.

His time as Anakin was delightful and he added layers to an already complicated character. He does that with most of his performances, but most people don’t see that. Christensen can portray brooding, cunning, innocent, sweet — basically any type of person or emotion. He just has not been given as many chances by directors and audiences to show off that talent.

This type of phenomenon happens a lot with actors in franchise films. Daniel Radcliffe will probably never escape his childhood fame as Harry Potter. David Schwimmer will always be Ross Geller from Friends. It’s the curse of being in something that’s popular worldwide.

He’s Got Legs

Hayden Christensen can hold his own when placed beside other experienced actors. In Star Warshe starred opposite veterans like Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman and was able to stand out on his own merits. Shattered Glass has him alongside Hank Azaria and Peter Sarsgaard; Christensen is still the best part of the movie because he is so fascinating to watch.

When one thinks of great actors, Hayden Christensen probably doesn’t come to the top of the list. His talent goes highly unnoticed due to the films he chooses to act in. He can be something more in the acting world, but he is relegated to the background of most films. He’s just the guy from Star Wars, when he should be so much more.

Follow MovieBabble on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and Kali Tuttle @tuttle_kali2.

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Robovacuums November 26, 2023 - 8:34 am

Star wars was amazing

Uri November 21, 2023 - 5:22 pm

BTW, I agree that Hayden is great. His recent SW revival showed that in spades.

Uri November 21, 2023 - 5:16 pm

I see suggest you watch a movie blind more often. No trailers, no plot summaries and taglines or reviews. Maybe you like the poster, one of the actors or a director. Maybe it’s a cult classic or got an important award. That’s how we film buffs used to watch movies that we could get our hands on. Now the choices are so vast and in most cases so easily obtained and background information at the top of our fingertips it’s ridiculous. 😆

Kali Tuttle November 26, 2023 - 11:18 am

I really want to try watching a movie blind again! I had a lot of fun with this one.

Nick Kush November 20, 2023 - 3:19 pm

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