The dark side of The Force was strong with fans after "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace" was released. The first of the prequels was so disappointing to so many fans, and they took their frustrations out on the lead actor, Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker.
Much has been said in the ensuing years about the harsh reactions to Episodes I-III, and the treatment of the fresh stars who had hoped to use the Star Wars films to start long, thriving careers.
It's now 2017, with a new trilogy entering theaters and -- so far -- a much happier fan base. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) owes his whole career to Star Wars, and he empathizes with Jake Lloyd. There but for the grace of a better story go he...
Here's what Hamill told Vulture at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival:
Poor kid. He was even nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor, which they should never have done to someone so young.
"I couldn't believe some of the things they wrote about the prequels, you know? But really beyond 'I didn't like it.' 'You ruined my childhood!' I'm still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd. He was only 10 years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George [Lucas] wanted him to do. Believe me, I understand clunky dialogue."
Ahmed Best ended up in the same boat, although he was already an adult by the time he took on the role of Jar Jar Binks. Here's what he told Vice a while back about the negative reaction to Jar Jar and the prequels at large:
"It didn't happen until the New York press junkets. The first person who kind of gave me an idea of where it was going was a writer from The New York Post. I didn't really think much about it because I always felt like the The New York Post was a paper that fed off of that type of energy, that type of negativity. Growing up in New York you know which papers give you the news and which papers give you the gossip and the Post was definitely heavier on the gossip side than anything else. But I was really surprised that everyone picked up on that afterwards.
It's a very American thing to take somebody down when they're at the top and a lot if it had to with that; people really wanted to see George crash and burn. Unfortunately, this character was so new, so experimental; he became a lightning rod for all that. It was me, and it was Jake Lloyd who took a lot of the heat for the movie. Fortunately, I was in my 20s. I wasn't eight years-old like Jake, who I think took it worse. Jake had it far worse than me. I'm a 20-year-old from from the Bronx; I've seen and I've done things that were a lot harder than criticism in that newspaper. Although it hurt me emotionally and it was hard to take at the time, it wasn't debilitating for me. I just put my shoes on and went back to work. But Jake had a difficult time."
Jake Lloyd was born in 1989 so he was 10 when "The Phantom Menace" came out, but younger when they filmed it. He's now 27 and "retired" from acting. The fandom, media, and classmates basically bullied him out of it, and that's on all of us.
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