As a card-carrying and proud member of the first Star Wars generation – those lucky enough to have seen Star Wars in cinemas on its first run – you could be forgiven for thinking my ‘loyalties’ lie only with that first trilogy of films, but you’d be wrong. The prequel trilogy not only expanded the Star Wars galaxy we already knew and adored but it enriched it enormously, and one of the key ingredients was the broad range of new characters we were introduced to, specifically in The Phantom Menace.
Ahmed Best, the man behind the voice, movements and spirit of Jar Jar Binks, was front and centre in this new era of Star Wars, and so to read this article in The Hollywood Reporter where Best tells of his struggles post-prequels and his personal battles is a sobering reminder of how vile certain elements of ‘fandom’ were in the pre-social media age almost 20 years ago.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
Ahmed Best faced such backlash after playing Jar Jar in the Star Wars prequels that he considered taking his life, the actor revealed Tuesday.
Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace was released in 1999. It was Best’s first major role in a film.
The goofy CG Jar Jar was loved by children, but for the most part was despised by fans of the original trilogy who felt the character was too out of place. In fact, they were downright brutal, Best told Wired last year.
“I had death threats through the internet,” Best told Wired. “I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”
Star Wars creator George Lucas, on the other hand, liked the character, and Jar Jar appeared again in Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005).
We can only hope that the show Best refers to, which we posted about a couple of days back, will tour extensively during Phantom‘s 20th anniversary year and celebrate the heady days and magic the film brought with it when fresh new Star Wars films returned for the first time back in 1999.