Tracking every actor who has brought Anakin Skywalker to life would be like tracking the history of Star Wars music. Sure, you could do it. But it wouldn’t be easy. That’s not even including his transformation into the legendary Sith Darth Vader!
Anakin’s story runs at the core of the franchise. Naturally, he’s made many appearances – from live-action to animated. The impact of his journey from chosen one to fallen hero rippled throughout the galaxy. So, who are the talented actors keeping his story alive?
It’s impossible to start any conversation about the Star Wars actors behind Anakin without mentioning David Prowse’s performances in the original movies. While he was mainly featured for his physical presentation of Darth Vader, he’s nevertheless gone down in Star Wars history.
Fun fact: George Lucas decided against using the actor’s voice because of his West Country English accent which earned David the nickname ‘Darth Farmer’. So, they found someone with a more intimidating voice.
James Earl Jones
The voice of Darth Vader needed power. So, it seemed kismet that Lucas would hire James Earl Jones for the role. He made Star Wars history by capturing Darth Vader’s impatience as well as Anakin’s pain.
Luckily for us, James’ passion for eccentric dramas means his presence in the franchise extends beyond the original movies. He has since voiced Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One, Rebels, and much more.
Though he played a relatively small role in Return of the Jedi, Sebastian Shaw still had an undeniably pleasing impact on fandom. The actor portrayed Anakin when he died and as a Force ghost.
Years later, many Star Wars fans still argue about whether Darth Vader’s actions against Palpatine truly earned him redemption. That doesn’t stop Sebastian’s Anakin from being a sweet yet painful reminder of what could’ve been if only the Jedi had made different choices.
Ten-year-old Jake Lloyd was the actor who brought a nine-year-old Anakin to life in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. His version of Anakin could be determined and willful. But he also just wanted to end slavery and free his mother Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) from bondage.
The young actor gave us a glimpse into Anakin’s life before he was a hotshot general in a galactic war. He loved podracing and hanging out with his best friend Kitster Banai (Dhruv Chanchani) when he wasn’t being forced into unpaid child labor. May the force (and hefty residuals) be with Jake always.
There was a time when Star Wars fans hated the prequels. They ridiculed Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith for many years.
Nowadays, though, Hayden is a hot commodity reviving his portrayal of the iconic character for newer projects like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka. Instead of mockery, his presence in the franchise is finally being met with the thunderous applause it’s always deserved.
When Lucasfilm first turned the Clone Wars movie into a 3-season TV show, Mat Lucas was the talented actor they brought on board to voice Anakin. His role in only lasted for 12 episodes until the end of the show led into the beginning of Revenge of the Sith.
So, Mat took his talents to the Star Wars video games. His voice can be heard in hit games like Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns and Galaxy of Heroes.
Matt Lanter voiced Anakin in the Clone Wars movie as well as the 7-season show it inspired. Star Wars fans fell in love with the actor’s ability to balance bravado and aggression with hilarity and openness. It’s like you could hear how much Anakin wore his heart on his sleeve – for better or for worse.
Matt has done voice work as Anakin in Rebels, Forces of Destiny, Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation, and Tales of the Jedi. He’s also worked in video games like The Old Republic and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
Star Wars video games are just as popular as its TV shows and movies. Scott Lawrence first voiced Anakin’s Sith alter ego Darth Vader in 1994 for the game TIE Fighter. He’s since gone on to work in a plethora of games from Force Commander and Racer Revenge to Empire at War and Squadrons.
You name it, Scott has most likely done it. The actor even took his skills into the world of VR with Vader Immortal. This interactive game is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bringing futuristic technology to a galaxy far, far away.
There’s a weird little pocket of Star Wars that thrives on telling oddball stories. Matt Sloan has worked as Anakin in most of them. For example, he once showed up on The Daily Show as Darth Vader. It probably has something to do with his parody work as a character named Chad Vader on YouTube.
The actor has been featured heavily in Lego Star Wars shows like The Yoda Chronicles and video games like The Force Unleashed. Matt’s other credits include video games Battlefront and Battlefront II, and animated 3D TV show The Freemaker Adventures.
These are just some of the many actors who’ve brought Anakin Skywalker into our homes. Recognizing their importance in Star Wars means showing appreciation for their hard work. Even if that means simply remembering their names every now and then.
- This article was updated on October 4th, 2023