From Danny Bonaduce to Amanda Bynes to Lyndsey Lohan, hearing about a child star falling on hard times as an adult is all too common. Unfortunately, the name ‘Jake Lloyd’ can now be added to a seemingly endless list of former child stars who despite being in the spotlight early on (or perhaps because of it) have had serious problems as adults. The former child star has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and moved to a psychiatric facility from prison, where for the past ten months he has been serving a sentence related to a high speed car chase in South Carolina.
Lloyd began his acting career as a six year old. Both of his parents were in the entertainment industry—his father was an on set medic and his mother was an entertainment agent. His first major gig was a reoccurring role on the highly popular dramatic series ‘E.R’. He also had roles in the films ‘Unhook the Stars’ (he played Marisa Tomei’s son) and the Arnold Schwarzenegger holiday classic “Jingle All The Way”.
His most visible film role, however, was as the young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” in 1999. The George Lucas film, and first of three Star Wars prequels, definitely disappointed a lot of fans of the popular science fiction franchise, and the then ten year old Jake Lloyd bore the brunt of heavy criticism. He was even nominated for a “Golden Raspberry” award for worst supporting actor.
Lloyd had trouble with bullying at school too, with classmates teasing him by making light saber sounds at him in jest. In a 2012 interview the actor now known as Jake Broadbent (in an attempt to perhaps distance himself from his child star past he legally changed his name) claimed that having starred in the Star Wars film had ‘ruined his childhood’. He also claimed to have destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia.
Whether Broadbent’s mental illness is in any way related to his experience as a child star is an open question. If there is one positive outcome here, it is that people are talking about society’s obsession with fame and the stigma surrounding mental illness.