ByPaul Donovan, writer at
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Paul Donovan

You may have heard that Jake Lloyd, famous for playing young Darth Vader, has been hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia. This comes as a surprise to many people.
How did this happen? I was able to piece together some highlights of his life.

The Young Darth Vader

In 1999, 10-year-old actor Jake Lloyd appeared in the role of a lifetime, Anakin Skywalker, in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.

It's no secret that many people hated Lloyd's performance in that movie. I must admit, I also made fun of him in that movie.

The Aftermath of The Phantom Menace

Jake Lloyd in 2007
Jake Lloyd in 2007

Instead of becoming famous and envied, Lloyd said he was bullied at school for being in the movie. He became so angry at the movie that he destroyed all his Star Wars memorabilia, and refused to watch the movie anymore. (source: Daily Mail)

An awkward interview from 2009:

He quit acting

After Star Wars, he only made two more movies, a small part in a movie called Madison in 2000, and a super low-budget, hardly seen movie called Die With Me in 2001.

After graduating high school in Indiana, he went to Columbia College Chicago, to study film-making and psychology. In 2012 he announced he was making a documentary about Tibetan refugees in India (source: Global Dispatch)

Another awkward interview:

He got in trouble with the law

On June 17, 2015, in South Carolina, Lloyd was caught speeding. But instead of pulling over, he led the police on a high speed chase, which lasted for 20 minutes before he crashed. He told police his name was Jake Broadbent. Police did not think he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol (source: Post and Courier)

Here's footage of the high-speed chase:

His mental illness is revealed

After Lloyd's arrest, his mother, Lisa, came forward and said he attacked her a few months earlier, in March 2015. He yelled at her, knocked her down, and kicked her. Lisa said she didn't press charges because she knew he was mentally ill.

In April 2016, Lloyd was diagnosed with schizophrenia and moved from prison to a psychiatric facility. (source: New York Daily News)

Jake Lloyd's mug shot when he was arrested in 2015.
Jake Lloyd's mug shot when he was arrested in 2015.

The internet gets cruel

As Slate reports, reaction to Lloyd's hospitalization sparked more mocking of him.

Some reactions include the following observations:

“Dude looks like straight sith material. Do not let him out”
“too much metaclorian [sic] in blood, bad for the brain.”
“someone probably showed him Phantom Menace.”

This has sparked a lot of discussion about making fun of mental illness, and how it's not taken nearly as seriously as it needs to be. And I agree. No matter how bad a 10-year-old kid's acting is, that's no reason to be cruel to him.

Let's all hope the next news we hear is good news.

What do you think? Is he fair game for all criticism because he's a public figure, or do we need to be more sensitive to his troubles, and the troubles of mentally ill people in general?


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