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Ahead of the 25th anniversary of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” the mother of Anakin Skywalker actor Jake Lloyd spoke to Scripps News about her son’s mental health struggles over the years and how he finally seems to be a better place. Jake was only eight years old when George Lucas cast him as a young Anakin in “The Phantom Menace,” but he did not stick with acting in the years that followed. Jake’s mother, Lisa, denies that her son’s decision to quit the profession had anything to do with “The Phantom Menace” being the subject of intense backlash from “Star Wars” fans at the time.

“It would have happened anyway,” Lisa said, pointing to Jake being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2008. “I believe that it was genetic. And his psychiatrist also agrees that Jake was going to become schizophrenic.”

“I protected him from the [‘Star Wars’] backlash,” she added. “He was just riding his bike outside, playing with his friends. He didn’t know. He didn’t care. Everybody makes such a big deal about that. And it’s rather annoying to me because Jake was a little kid when that came out, and he didn’t really feel all that stuff because I didn’t let him online.”

“People say he quit because of ‘Star Wars.’ Well, that’s not true. It didn’t have anything to do with ‘Star Wars.’ It had more to do with our family. And we were going through a divorce,” she continued. “Things were unsettled and kind of rough. And Jake didn’t seem to be having a lot of fun auditioning anymore. Jake loved filming ‘Star Wars.’ He had so much fun. I would love for him to get well enough to be able to do a little bit of something, and I’m sure he would maybe like to do that. He couldn’t at this point, but you never know how much he’s going to improve. So we’ll see.”

Jake celebrated his 35th birthday on March 5. His mother said he “started having some trouble in high school,” where he appeared to show early signs of schizophrenia.

“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,” Lisa said.

Jake was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2008 after dropping out of college. Lisa revealed to Scripps that he had a mental break last year after he stopped driving a car in the middle of the road and caused a traffic jam.

“He said he wanted to turn the car off. And he turned the car off in the middle of the three lanes, and we were in the middle lane,” Lisa recalled. “There was a lot of yelling and screaming. The police got there, and they asked Jake some questions. He was talking to them, but none of it made sense. It was all word salad.”

Jake is now in his 10th month of an 18-month stay at a mental health rehabilitation facility, where Lisa said “he’s doing much better than I expected.”

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

The two even celebrated Jake’s birthday this month together with a trip to the movies to see “Wonka.”

“He really loved it,” Lisa said. “That was one of the things that we couldn’t do when he was off his medication was watch movies. He just didn’t have the attention span for it.”

Lisa added that Jake is also keeping up with the “Star Wars” universe and is a fan of the Disney+ series “Ahsoka.” “He loves all the new ‘Star Wars’ stuff,” Lisa said. “People think Jake hates ‘Star Wars.’ He loves it.”

Head over to Scripps’ website to read the full interview with Lisa Lloyd.



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