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Beloved ‘Star Wars’ Actor Reveals Heartbreaking Diagnosis

Jake Lloyd Anakin Skywalker schizophrenia
Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

In 1999, Lucasfilm decided to expand its Star Wars universe with the release of Star Wars: Episode I  – The Phantom Menace. The film was the first in a new trilogy that told the backstories of some of our favorite Star Wars characters. Fans were introduced to younger versions of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, Emperor Palpatine (AKA Darth Sidious), and Yoda. Sadly, the prequel films did not go over as well as the original trilogy and are frequently the butt of Star Wars jokes.

Star Wars the Phantom Menace

Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: Disney Insists There Is Still a Lot of Demand for Star Wars Stories

In the prequel films, fans were also introduced to Anakin Skywalker, the young boy who would grow to become one of the most feared villains in the galaxy — Darth Vader. Anakin Skywalker was most famously played by Hayden Christiansen. However, his younger character was played by child actor Jake Lloyd.

It’s been 25 years since Lloyd appeared as a young Anakin Skywalker, and nearly just as long since he has appeared on camera. And now, we have learned the devastating reason why.

Star Wars The Phantom Menace

Credit: Lucasfilm

In a recent interview, Lloyd’s mother revealed that the actor — who is only 35 years old — has been struggling with schizophrenia for years.

According to Lisa Lloyd, she first realized that her son was having some serious mental illness struggles when he was in high school. Per TODAY:

“He started talking about ‘realities.’ He didn’t know if he was in this reality, or a different reality. I didn’t really know exactly what to say to that,” she recalled. 

She took him to a doctor who thought her son could have bipolar disorder and Jake Lloyd was prescribed different medications. When he left home to attend Columbia College Chicago, he struggled. 

Lisa Lloyd remembered her son saying he saw “black eyes” looking at him on the street and had conversations with Jon Stewart while watching “The Daily Show.” 

Star Wars The Phantom Menace

Credit: Lucasfilm

She also said that her son was hearing voices, but he did not admit that to his family at the beginning. It was not until he moved with his mother to Indiana in 2008 that he was actually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was also diagnosed with anosognosia — the inability to recognize an illness and the need for medication.

According to the Mayo Clinic, schizophrenia is “a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally.”

Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.

People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Early treatment may help get symptoms under control before serious complications develop and may help improve the long-term outlook.

Star Wars The Phantom Menace

Credit: Lucasfilm

Lloyd’s mother revealed that the actor is currently 10 months into an 18-month-long stay at a mental health rehab facility. She also said that he is aware that she is talking publicly about his mental health struggles.

In 2015, Lloyd was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase in South Carolina. According to reports, police chased Lloyd for almost half an hour before he crashed his car. Lloyd lied to police about his name — calling himself Jake Broadbent — and was arrested on charges of failing to stop for officers, resisting arrest, reckless driving, and driving without a license. He ended up spending 10 months in jail.

Star Wars The Phantom Menace

Credit: Lucasfilm

His mother said that things reached a peak when they were driving, and he stopped his car in the middle of a three-lane road. Police approached and tried to talk to Lloyd, but nothing he said made any sense. Shortly after that, he entered a mental health facility.

Thankfully, Ms. LLoyd said that her son is improving and is doing much better than she expected. She was even able to take her son to see the new Timothée Chalamet movie, Wonka.

She also said that she would love for her son to be a part of a future Star Wars project. Ms. Lloyd said that he still loves the franchise, most recently watching Ahsoka when it was released on Disney+.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please know that there is help available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a hotline that is available 24/7. Those needed help are encouraged to call 1-800-662-HELP. 

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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