Mother of Star Wars child actor Jake Lloyd shares son’s life with mental illness after filming ended

The actor’s mother shared that he is currently being treated in hospital for mental illness, but insisted that the former child star ‘still loves’ the franchise

Maira Butt
Tuesday 12 March 2024 10:41 GMT
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George Lucas admits he went 'too far' with Star War: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

The mother of child actor Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, has spoken out about her son’s struggle with mental illness.

Lloyd, now 35, was just 10 years old when he starred alongside Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in the movie released in 1999, and has largely kept out of the public eye.

Since the movie, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary this May, the actor has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and has struggled with his mental health for years as a result.

His mother, Lisa, insists that her son’s involvement in the Star Wars franchise had nothing to do with his health, and that “it would have happened anyway” as his father’s side of the family have a history of the condition.

“Jake started having some trouble in high school,” Lisa told Scripps News. “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.”

Lloyd was seven years old when he first started acting, playing the role of Jimmy Sweet in four episodes of American medical drama ER.

But his mother says that he wasn’t aware of the unique nature of his lifestyle as he was “just riding his bike outside, playing with his friends”, noting that she protected him from spending too much time online.

Lloyd was due to attend private arts school, Columbia College Chicago, in 2007 after graduating from high school, however he was unable to finish his education there. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time before his diagnosis of schizophrenia, which came later.

(Lucas Films)

“He missed a lot of classes, and he was telling me that people were following him,” Lisa said.

Her son reported seeing people with “black eyes” staring at him on the street and said he would have late night conversations with Jon Stewart through his TV.

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He left college to live with his mother in 2008, and after a series of psychiatric appointments was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

She reports her son would sometimes self-medicate with illicit drugs or quit taking his medication as he attempted to manage his condition.

Jake Lloyd played Anakin Skywalker alongside Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor (©Lucas Films)

Eventually, matters escalated with Lloyd being arrested in 2015 after taking a solo trip from Florida to Canada. He had led police on a multi-county chase before crashing his car. After trying to have her son taken to hospital, Lisa was told there were no beds and he was forced to spend 10 months in prison.

His sister Madison, who also appeared as an extra in The Phantom Menace, passed away due to natural causes at the age of 26 in 2018, which affected the Star Wars actor.

Last year, Lloyd suffered what his mother calls a “full-blown psychotic break” after he wanted to turn their car off in the middle lane of the motorway.

“There was a lot of yelling and screaming,” she recalled, saying that other drivers rang 911.

Lloyd was taken into hospital and a couple of months later he was admitted to a mental health rehabiliation facility. He is currently 10 months into an 18 -month stay.

“He’s doing much better than I expected,” Lisa said. “He is relating to people better and becoming a little bit more social, which is really nice. It’s kind of like having more of the old Jake back, because he has always been incredibly social until he became schizophrenic.”

As for Star Wars, Lisa says her son is still a fan, and that he watched recent Disney+ series Asohka: “He loves all the new Star Warsstuff. People think Jake hates Star Wars. He loves it.”

If you have been affected by this article, you can contact the following organisations for support: actiononaddiction.org.uk, mind.org.uk, nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth, mentalhealth.org.uk.

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