In the L.A. Times, actor Hayden Christensen explains that he was terrible in the Star Wars prequels because that's what George Lucas wanted him to be:
George came up to me on the set one day during my first 'Star Wars' and said something that I never fully understood until after we were done filming. He said, 'As an actor, you have to think of yourself as a ditch digger.' . . . What he was implying was that on his movie, I needed to think of myself as a ditch digger, because it wasn't the proper arena for actual creative expression. This was his thing. It was all very thought-out in his head, and I needed to show up to make his wants a reality. And so really, what he was saying to me, was: 'Don't let this experience discourage you from what acting can really be about, because that's not what this is.'
In his current release, the sci-fi movie Jumper, Christensen says he had a much better experience with director Doug Liman:
Doug . . . really wanted the actors' insight into the story, asking us to script meetings, which was a treat, you know, how collaborative he was. It was really satisfying.
Sadly, it appears to have been a new route to a familiar destination:
Christensen is a leaden slab, whose charisma deprivation made me long for David to be teleported back to his high-school years, when he was played by the much more attractive Max Thieriot.-- Richard Corliss
What is it about Christensen’s voice that’s so dead, even without dialogue by George Lucas? Is he trying to suppress his Canadian accent? -- David Edelstein
“Star Wars” fans will remember Hayden Christensen as the young Anakin Skywalker, or, to be accurate, as a kind of handsome void where Anakin was supposed to be....One day, I feel sure, the rich mantle of charisma will descend upon him, but “Jumper” is not that occasion. -- Anthony Lane
Hayden Christensen is an actor of precisely one affect: a petulant, boyish entitlement so impregnable it borders on malevolence. -- Dana Stevens