By Diana Mehta
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO _ Hayden Christensen knows his name will always be associated with “Star Wars,” but the actor famous for playing Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader is eager to take on roles that allow audiences to see a different side of him.
The 33-year-old Canadian appeared bashful when asked how he’s sought to define himself ever since the films that made him something of a household name.
“It was a big part of my life for like five years and it was an amazing experience and did a lot for my career but afterwards I needed to kind of take a little bit of a break and I did,” he said during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he was promoting his new film “American Heist.”
Christensen explained that he took a few years away from acting to focus on his family after “Star Wars” _ a move that was “really important” to him.
As he returned to the acting world, Christensen said he remained grateful for all that “Star Wars” had done for him.
“I think obviously the franchise will always be with me and that probably is what I will always be known for,” he said.
“I knew that when I was signing up for it. It’s so pervasive in our society, it’s a part of public domain and I got to play Darth Vader and that was awesome so that was very cool, very cool.”
Currently, however, Christensen wants to be able to offer more to his audiences.
“Now I’m looking to go and sort of do different types of films and play characters that will hopefully allow people to see different aspects of my work,” he said. “That’s very exciting for me right now.”
One such role is the character he plays in “American Heist,” which follows two brothers who become caught up in a high-stakes bank robbery.
Christensen plays James, the younger but seemingly more mature brother to Frankie, played by an electrifying Adrien Brody.
“There was just something compelling about the relationship about these two brothers that really spoke to me,” Christensen said. “I knew there was something there that was valuable.”
The film, which premiered at TIFF, is directed by Armenian filmmaker Sarik Andreasyan and also features hip hop singer Akon.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sunday.