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Jake Lloyd's Mom Offers First Update On The Phantom Menace Star In Years, Opens Up About His Schizophrenia

Not many things in the Star Wars Universe are a mystery anymore, with hundreds of forums and sites like Wookieepedia to cover every nook and cranny of the galaxy far, far away that we love so much - but Jake Lloyd, who starred in 'The Phantom Menace' as a young Anakin Skywalker, has largely lived a private life since that movie was released. He made a couple appearances at various Comic Con events and signings in his teen years, and unfortunately made headlines when he was arrested for reckless driving/failing to stop for officers in 2015, but we haven't heard many updates about Lloyd since.

Jake's mother Lisa recently did an interview with Clayton Sandell of Scripps News, however, and revealed that Lloyd is currently 10 months through an 18-month stay at a mental health facility - in treatment for paranoid schizophrenia. 

He started showing signs of the condition in high school, when he'd tell her that he didn't know which reality he was in, and he left college early into his first year to move back in with his mom when he thought people were following him. She details a few more encounters/struggles he has had with the schizophrenia over the years, how his younger sister's death led him to struggle even more, and the full on mental breakdown that caused him to enter the treatment facility he's in now (really sad stuff) - but reveals that he's currently doing better than he has been in a while....

He’s currently about 10 months into an 18-month stay. Lisa hopes it will be a significant turning point for Jake, noting that he's been showing remarkable improvement with the help of therapy and treatments. 

“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.”

Jake is also starting to understand more about his condition and the importance of consistently taking his medication, according to his mom. For the first time in many years, Lisa says Jake is more enthusiastic about hanging out with family friends at barbecues and celebrating holidays. 

She also made a point to dispel the longstanding rumors that the backlash he received for his performance in 'The Phantom Menace' caused the decline of his mental health, stating that schizophrenia is a genetic disease and that they had a family history of it....

As for "Star Wars," his mother said Jake is still a huge fan of the movies and shows. Most recently, he’s been watching episodes of the "Ahsoka" series on Disney+. Lisa even gave Jake an action figure of the lead character Ahsoka Tano last week as a birthday present.

“He loves all the new 'Star Wars' stuff,” she says. “People think Jake hates 'Star Wars.' He loves it.”

Lisa is also eager to dispel what she says is a common misconception: that an avalanche of negative reaction to "The Phantom Menace" drove Jake to quit acting and contributed to his mental illness.

“It would have happened anyway,” Lisa insists, pointing to a history of schizophrenia on his biological father’s side of the family. “I believe that it was genetic. And his psychiatrist also agrees that Jake was going to become schizophrenic.”

She also insists that in 1999, Jake was largely shielded from the toxic vitriol swirling around the prequel film.

“I protected him from the backlash. He was just riding his bike outside, playing with his friends. He didn't know. He didn't care,” Lisa said. “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.”

When asked if he'd ever be able to return for another acting project, she said that while she'd love for that to happen - it's not possible at this point….

“Jake loved filming 'Star Wars.' He had so much fun,” she recalled. “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.”

Lisa said though all the challenges, she’s learned important lessons about remaining calm and having the patience to listen and understand what Jake is feeling deep down. Exactly what his future holds is uncertain, but today his mother believes it’s brighter than it has been in a long time.

“We're in a lot better place. And we do have a lot of things to look forward to,” Lisa said. “We all love Jake, and we want to be around him. I just want him to be happy.”

Honestly, as a kid who got countless hours of entertainment value from 'The Phantom Menace' (to the point I wore my VHS tape out), I just want Jake Lloyd to get better; I could care less about a little return cameo. It'd be cool, yeah, but he's dealing with a real shitty hand that life gave him, and if he could fight through that and get back to living a happy, social life - that's all that matters.

It is nice to hear that the backlash/vitriol never really got to him (as his mother protected him from the internet and reviews back then) and that he still loves the franchise. After all he's been through, that warmed my heart. 

I was way too young to understand what a "good performance" was when I fell in love with 'The Phantom Menace', so I might be biased, but I STILL feel that critics were way too harsh on him for what was a totally passable performance from a nine year old kid. Ron Howard felt the same way, and sent this legendary letter to Newsweek in defense of Lloyd….

Wishing the best for Tatooine's best podracer and his family. I'll be first in line for the 'Phantom Menace' re-release this May!

Hopefully Jake's getting the help he needs/deserves and will be thriving in no time!