In 1999's Star Wars Episode I, young Anakin Skywalker didn't exactly win the hearts of millions. In fact, the character stands up there with Jar Jar Binks as one of the most hated elements of The Phantom Menace. The inclusion and personalities of both characters were chastised by many critics as pandering to younger audiences. Unfortunately, the character of young Anakin also ended up damaging the career of Jake Lloyd, a promising child actor at the time.
In an interview with Daily Mail, Lloyd said that his life went so downhill after The Phantom Menace that he quit the film business. He grew to dislike having cameras pointed at him, and he said that he was bullied at school.
"Other children were really mean to me [...] They would make the sound of the light saber every time they saw me. It was totally mad [...] My entire school life was really a living hell, and I had to do up to 60 interviews a day."
That interview was from 2012, and things have only gotten worse for Lloyd since then. Just last week, Lloyd was arrested for reckless driving at a reported speed of 117 mph. As if that wasn't bad enough, gossip website TMZ recently reported that Lloyd violently assaulted his own mother. Lloyd reportedly yelled at her for ruining his life and inflicted minor injuries on her.
TMZ adds that Lloyd's mother was interviewed by police, admitting that her son has schizophrenia and was off his medication at the time of the attack. Lloyd's mother has not pressed charges and insisted to TMZ that he is not a violent person and is still seeking help.
While some commenters have brushed this incident off as just another child star gone bad, others feel sympathy towards Lloyd. Among the most upvoted comments on the story's Reddit link are:
"Poor kid. The more I read about him, the more I feel badly for him."
"This is so heartbreaking to read. When I was a kid, I always remember watching him the most in Jingle All the Way and love that movie to this day."
"I just gotta feel bad for him, you know? Just imagine, everyone telling you how awful you are and how you ruined a franchise you once loved. I couldn't take that."
Another redditor posted a link to a Guardian article about how childhood bullying can lead to schizophrenia. Lloyd's mother said that he started showing signs of the disorder at age 19, so it's entirely possible the bullying from his Star Wars days contributed to his hardships.
While some of you may still think of Jake Lloyd as "that kid that ruined Star Wars," just remember that behind that precocious character is a human being. Jake Lloyd, in all honesty, needs all the help he can get.