The newly appointed Han Solo movie director Ron Howard had defended Jake Lloyd and The Phantom Menace against an insulting article published in Newsweek, in 1999.
Here is an excerpt from Jonathan L. Bowen’s Anticipation:
Despite the engulfing media coverage, a small backlash began early in 1999, which later became a greater menace to Star Wars fans. On January 18, Newsweek published an article titled, “Buzz Wars, Episode One: The Backlash Menace.” The brief article declared that a backlash against the film had already begun and the deafening hype could damage the prequel’s success. Most importantly, the magazine stated, “Insiders call 9-year old Jake Lloyd (who plays Anakin Skywalker) ‘Mannequin Skywalker’ — word is he stinks.”
Former child actor Ron Howard, who is also close friends with George Lucas, came to Lloyd’s defense in a letter published in the February 1 issue of Newsweek. He called the earlier article “snide and insipid” but was especially offended by the publication’s comments about the young actor. He wrote, “The potshot at [Lloyd] was downright irresponsible. I seriously doubt the ‘insiders’ you mention are inside enough to have seen an edited version of the new Star Wars, because I have, and in my opinion, Jake is terrific in the film (which, by the way, is truly amazing).” He further condemned the magazine by stating, “For Newsweek to attack a child’s performance based on rumor and without even having seen the movie is shameful.”
Check out the article and Howard’s letter below (source: Slate)