While we will always be indebted to George Lucas for his imagination for creating the Star Wars universe, and his talent as an editor is hard to match, he had a knack for making good actors into bad ones. It was almost like principal photography was the vegetables to his CGI dessert. In many scenes, there was no way he took more than one take. And in fact, my esteem for Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford skyrockets as they seemed to somehow avoid this trap (“It’s a trap!”).
So here are the Ten Worst Performances in the Star Wars Franchise (you’ll notice this is heavy on prequel actors, but again, that’s on Lucas):
10. Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks): Yes, it’s not his fault that the character was just north of Amos & Andy, and that it stepped in doo-doo, but that’s why I dropped him all the way to 10. He still must take the responsibility of that accent and that delivery, even if he was just a tennis ball on a stick most times.
9. Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett): Lucas just can’t judge young talent. While not much was asked of the kid in this role, we needed something (anything!) when he held his father’s severed head. Even “Cool!” would have worked.
8. Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa): The real problem here was there was nothing to the role. You may have remembered Smits was in one or two of the sequels, but you probably had trouble remembering who he was (the Organa’s raised Leia on Alderaan). So while it wasn’t his fault he was wasted as an actor, I will give him grief for that forced fist slam of resignation at the end of “Attack of the Clones.”
7. Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia): Let’s be specific about this, I am only talking about the first movie. As she went along, Fisher got better. But in that first movie, she had a problem separating bitchy from constipated. I should have recognized your foul stench… Sure we blew up your home planet, but lighten the hell up…
6. Ewan McGregor (Young Obi-Wan): Wow, he’s one of my favorite actors, but what the hell was that accent all about? I couldn’t decide if he were a Jedi or going to take my order at a snooty restaurant (snooty? snotty?). And most of the time when he was in a CGI scene, he seemed to look everywhere except where he was supposed to look. McGregor is best when he’s allowed to roam wild with a crazed look in his eye, not a refined Jedi master. At times he was a bad imitation of Judge Smails in “Caddyshack.”
5. Samuel L. Jackson (Made Windu): Again, one of my favorites, but he was out of place. And when he spoke dialogue, it was like he knew the words, but had no idea what they meant. At least he had a good death scene.
4. Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala/Padme): She’s an Oscar winner for God’s sake, but most of the time, she looks like she’s trying not to puke up bad kung pao chicken. The weird hair things were bad enough, but somehow with that makeup she acted just like the girl in “Small Wonder.” Anakin, you’re breaking my heart… Yeesh!
3. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker): I know he’s part of the original trinity, but honestly, his default was whiney, and he never got past that. He was more the Luke we deserved than the one we needed, settling better into the farm boy role than the Jedi master one. And he seemed to enjoy those kisses from his sister…
2. Jake Lloyd (Young Anakin Skywalker): Lucas plucked this kid out of obscurity, and then put him right back. Of course, the script for Phantom Menace has to take some of the blame, but many times Lloyd just looked like he was emotionlessly reciting a poem he learned for English class.
1. Hayden Christensen (Brooding Anakin Skywalker): Oh, where to begin. He was creepy courting Natalie Portman. He was whiney when he should have been dark. His bro moments with Ewan McGregor looked like high school drama class. The pre-Darth Vader needed to be an evil psychopath, not a little bitch. If I had a time machine, after killing baby Hitler, I would have given this role to Heath Ledger (how awesome would that have been?). Although, that means in a bizarro universe Christensen might have gotten the role of Joker in “The Dark Knight,” which is not a universe I want to live in.
Photo via Getty
David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is blurry-eyed from watching all the Star Wars movies. Again.