Why This ‘Star Wars’ Child Actor Disappeared from Hollywood for over 20 Years

Few tales in Hollywood are as captivating and enigmatic as that of Jake Lloyd. Born Jake Matthew Lloyd Broadbent on March 5, 1989, in Fort Collins, Colorado, his foray into the heart of the film industry commenced at an incredibly tender age.

Earning recognition for his portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” Jake seemed destined for stardom. Helmed by George Lucas, the film soared to become the second-highest-grossing movie globally at the box office at the time, trailing only behind the monumental “Titanic” (1997).

Handpicked from a pool of approximately 3,000 child actors, Jake was entrusted with embodying the nine-year-old Anakin, a role that would inscribe his name into cinematic annals. Despite the fame and accolades that accompanied his involvement in the “Star Wars” saga, Jake’s presence in Hollywood began to wane shortly thereafter.

While Jake did encounter bullying in high school related to his role in “Star Wars,” as he had previously disclosed in interviews, Lisa underscores that this wasn’t the primary reason behind his retreat from the limelight.
His final acting role was filmed in 2000. Cast in “The Phantom Menace” at the age of eight, Jake’s retreat from public view has been a subject of speculation and fascination for years.

Jake’s transition from a child prodigy to stepping out of the public eye was marked by various changes, encompassing personal, emotional, and physical realms. Delve into Jake’s metamorphosis over the years, spanning from his early years to the present.

In 1996, a youthful Jake was captured on the set of the film “Jingle All the Way,” directed by Brian Levant. Standing alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lloyd epitomized childhood innocence and exuberance. Clad in a cozy yellow jacket, he radiated the joyful smile of a boy living his dream, unaware of the impending transformation in his life.

Jake in 1998
Fast forward to 1998, Jake attended Nickelodeon’s “Big Help” event in Los Angeles, a significant gathering centered on community service and altruism. His presence at this event, just a year before the premiere of “The Phantom Menace,” showcased him as slightly older yet still exuding the same youthful aura that would soon catapult him to fame.

Jake in 1999
In 1999, amidst the fervor of “Star Wars” fans anticipating the release of “The Phantom Menace,” Jake, the young protagonist at the heart of the saga, led a surprisingly ordinary life, thanks to his mother’s vigilant efforts.

Lisa Lloyd, Jake’s mother, served as his shield against the deluge of criticism and backlash directed at the film. She made it her mission to keep her son grounded, ensuring that he remained preoccupied with the simple joys of childhood — riding his bike and playing with friends — rather than being ensnared by the complexities of internet notoriety.

“He didn’t know. He didn’t care,” Lisa asserted, dismayed by the undue emphasis placed on the negative facets of fame that Jake, as a young boy, blissfully remained oblivious to.

Although Jake acknowledged experiencing bullying in high school linked to his role in “Star Wars,” as he had disclosed in previous interviews, Lisa stresses that this was not the primary reason for his departure from the silver screen.

The truth, as she highlighted, was much closer to home. The Lloyd family was grappling with the tumultuous aftermath of divorce, a situation that often casts a shadow far more profound than any involvement in the film industry.

“Things were turbulent and quite challenging,” Lisa reminisced. It was a period of instability during which Jake lost interest in auditions and the acting career that had thrust him into the spotlight.

Jake in 2001

By 2001, at the Sundance Nike ACG Snowboard Clinic in Park City, Utah, Jake showcased a different demeanor, appearing more at ease and immersed in the joys of teenage life. Clad in snowboarding gear against a wintry backdrop, he seemed like any other adolescent relishing in the snow.

That same year, a family portrait featuring Jake’s mother Lisa and his sister Madison Lloyd captured a rare moment of familial unity and spirit.

Jake in 2004

In 2004, Jake made an appearance at the San Diego Convention Center, showing signs of aging, albeit with faint echoes of his younger self still discernible in his features. It was an appearance hinting at his gradual withdrawal from acting as he sought normalcy away from the relentless spotlight.

Jake in 2005

The San Francisco World Premiere of “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith” in 2005 witnessed Jake re-entering the “Star Wars” universe. Attending the premiere as a young adult, his demeanor was more subdued, his features matured, as he confronted a world that once knew him as the young Anakin.

Jake in 2007

In 2007, at the “Star Wars” Celebration IV – Day 3, Jake’s presence evoked a sense of nostalgia, reflecting on a path once trodden, a life forever altered by the saga that catapulted him to fame.

Jake in 2008
By 2008, Jake’s life had taken an unforeseen turn that no script could have foretold. During his high school years, Lisa noticed shifts in Jake’s personality, marking the onset of a distressing journey. He began questioning reality itself, leaving his mother bewildered and searching for answers.

This change in behavior signaled deeper issues transcending typical teenage concerns. “He couldn’t distinguish between this reality and another reality,” Lisa recounted with a mother’s profound concern. Her efforts to maintain normalcy, such as insisting on completing homework, concealed a deeper struggle just beginning to surface.

Jake’s experience of bullying in high school due to his role in “Star Wars,” as he previously mentioned in interviews, was not the primary reason he withdrew from the entertainment industry, as emphasized by his mother, Lisa.

Instead, the family was grappling with the challenges of divorce, a significant upheaval that overshadowed any career considerations. “Things were unsettled and kind of rough,” Lisa recalled, describing a period of instability that dampened Jake’s enthusiasm for auditions and acting.

By 2001, at the Sundance Nike ACG Snowboard Clinic in Park City, Utah, Jake exhibited a more relaxed demeanor, enjoying the thrills of adolescence amidst a wintry backdrop. However, subsequent years revealed deeper struggles as Jake’s mental health deteriorated.

Following a series of troubling experiences, including hallucinations and delusions, Jake returned home to Indiana in 2008. After therapeutic sessions and medical consultations, he received a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, exacerbating his despair.

Despite his mother’s efforts to ensure treatment adherence, Jake’s anosognosia posed a challenge, rendering him unaware of his condition. In 2015, multiple incidents highlighted the severity of his struggles, leading to legal issues and incarceration.

Despite setbacks, Lisa tirelessly advocated for Jake’s well-being, securing his release and facilitating his relocation to California. Yet, the journey was fraught with challenges, including episodes of severe hallucinations.

In 2018, tragedy struck the Lloyd family with the unexpected death of Jake’s sister, Madison. Her passing deeply affected Jake, compounding his emotional turmoil.

In 2023, Jake experienced a public psychotic episode, underscoring the urgency of his condition. Following medical intervention, he entered an inpatient mental health rehabilitation program, marking a pivotal phase in his recovery.

As of now, Jake has made significant progress in his treatment program, rekindling his sociability and rediscovering simple joys like watching movies. While his return to acting remains uncertain, his mother remains hopeful for his continued improvement and prioritizes his well-being above all else.

Fans worldwide have rallied behind Jake, offering messages of support and encouragement. They acknowledge his struggles and express gratitude for his impact on their lives, serving as a beacon of hope amidst his journey toward better health.