Ahmed Best played the animated character Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel series to poor reviews — not because of his performance, but because the character was reviled. In the early 2017 novel Star Wars: Aftermath: Empires End, author Chuck Wendig gave him a fate fans thought the character deserved.
In the novel, Jar Jar becomes a clown, performing for refugee children. No adult will speak with him. As Best said in an interview with YouTuber Jamie Stangroom, below, Jar Jar “becomes this tragic character where he realizes he’s been manipulated and loses his mind.”
But it was, in Best’s opinion, a good choice: “It’s a very somber, very dark eventuality for Jar Jar. I quite liked it, actually.”
He told Stangroom, “I always complained to George that I didn’t get a good death. I wanted to really be just hacked to pieces in some kind of way, and George wouldn’t do it.”
Best said of his character, “I’ve been trying to let him go for so long.”
What amazes Best is the fact that he hears from fans on Twitter “every day.” “It blows my mind, all the hits I’ve taken over the years for Jar Jar, people still care.”
That’s even more surprising, considering how little Best was acknowledged for his performance as Jar Jar.
Best mentioned that when Lord of the Rings came out, director Peter Jackson made it a point of focusing attention on Andy Serkis the actor. Meanwhile, for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Lucasfilm placed emphasis on the special effects of Jar Jar, rather than the character playing him.
“I was never asked to do anything else after Jar Jar, because no one knew who I was.” Lucasfilm never spoke much about the process of turning an actor into an animated character, and without a behind-the-scenes DVD, it was hard to take Best at his word.
“Andy Serkis is credited with being the first [motion-capture actor], and he wasn’t, and it’s good that he wasn’t, because the first one through the gate always gets the bloodiest. So I took all the hits.”
Later, Best noted, Serkis was given the role of Lord Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
So Disney, why don’t you have Best appear in another Star Wars movie, this time as a character that people love — or at least don’t hate? As you can see in the video, he’s an intelligent performer who puts a great deal of thought into character. We would love to see the actor get the respect every other actor who had appeared in Star Wars receives.
Best is currently excited about his new project, a podcast called The Afrofuturist. And so are we.