“I’ve learned to hate it when the cameras are pointed at me.” Despite his fast rise to stardom in the late 1990s when he was cast as the young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Jake Lloyd quickly realized he wanted nothing to do with Hollywood or fame. In fact, the former Colorado native bid farewell to Tinsel Town in 2001 when he retired from acting and moved to Chicago where he studied film and psychology at Columbia College Chicago. Dropping out after his first semester, Lloyd has spent the last decade making sporadic appearances at various comic book festivals around the country until a run-in with the law for reckless driving in 2015 put him back in the media’s crosshairs. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, the 28-year-old Lloyd currently lives in California where he’s happy to introduce himself as “Jake Broadbent” to avoid any fandom from his former Star Wars fame.
With his parents already well versed in show business as a set medic and an entertainment agent, Jake Matthew Lloyd didn’t have to wait long before his parents took him to his first audition. Born on March 5, 1989 in Fort Collins, Colorado, Lloyd was only seven years old when he made his television debut as Jimmy Sweet in four episodes of NBC’s popular medical drama, ER, in 1996. The same year, he made his film debut as J.J. in Unhook the Stars and starred as the adorable Jamie Langston opposite Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Christmas comedy Jingle All the Way before he landed another recurring role on The Pretender from 1996 to 1999.
Making another appearance in the 1996 made-for-television film Apollo 11, Lloyd continued to hone his talents over the next few years until he caught the biggest break of his career when George Lucas cast him as the young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. As the first film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the epic space opera was a massive success and earned over $1 billion at the box office while making Lloyd an international star at only 10 years old. Even then, Lloyd wasn’t prepared for his overnight fame and later admitted as much saying, “None of us really understood exactly how much Star Wars would affect us for the rest of our lives.”
Although the sudden fame in Hollywood was unnerving for the young Lloyd who was giving around 60 interviews each day, his life outside the spotlight was just as stressful with his classmates often bullying him for his stardom. “My entire school life was really a living hell,” he later said. “Other children were really mean to me… They would make the sound of a light saber every time they saw me. It was totally mad…”
Despite reading reviews that his performance was wooden and earned him the nickname “Mannequin Skywalker,” Lloyd lent his voice to Skywalker in a handful of video games including Star Wars Episode I: Racer, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing and Star Wars Racer Revenge. Having already filmed his last project, Madison, in 2000, Lloyd was so tired of Hollywood and the entire Star Wars franchise that he trashed every piece of memorabilia he owned and announced his official retirement from acting in 2001 at 12 years old.
With his parents eventually settling down in the town of Carmel, Indiana just outside of Indianapolis, Lloyd focused on living a normal life and attended Carmel High School. After graduation, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he enrolled at Columbia College Chicago to study film and psychology only to drop out after his first semester and return to Carmel where he picked up a job at the local mall. Amid working at Pac Sun and making a few homemade documentaries as a novice filmmaker, he surprised fans when he started making sporadic appearances at sci-fi conventions and comic book festivals across the country despite still admitting that he hated having cameras pointed at him.
Much like his short-lived fame in Hollywood in the late 1990s, Lloyd’s venture back into the Star Wars realm was brief as he created a promo for Mallory Low’s single for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones before announcing his focus had shifted back to documentary work. This time, his subject was the Tibetan refugees who fled to India to avoid persecution by the Chinese government. Sadly, the documentary was never finished as Lloyd’s personal and mental health took a turn for the worse in 2015 when, after identifying himself as Jake Broadbent, he was arrested for reckless driving, driving without a license and resisting arrest.
“Jake Lloyd has been in jail since June when he led police on a high-speed chase in South Carolina,” The Daily Mail reported. “On Saturday, his mother, Lisa, told TMZ the former child actor suffers from schizophrenia. Lloyd, who gave his name to deputies in South Carolina as Jake Broadbent, was arrested in June after a high-speed car chase that ended with him plowing his vehicle into a tree… the chase went on for 25 miles, even continuing in another county before Lloyd lost control of his car and ran off Interstate 95. He plowed through a fence and continued speeding along a parallel frontage road, authorities said. The road ended at a dead end, but the vehicle kept going into a wooded area before it hit several small trees and stopped.”
Spending 10 months in jail before being released on a $10,700 bail, Lloyd was eventually transferred to a psychiatric facility where physicians officially diagnosed him with schizophrenia as his mother later confirmed that he typically refused to take his medication and had even attacked her at their home in Indianapolis a few months prior to his arrest. Today, the 28-year-old is presumably still under psychiatric care in California, a state that offered him his first taste of fame over two decades ago.