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SYFY WIRE Star Wars Celebration

Star Wars Daily: Once shunned, Jar Jar actor Ahmed Best gets a standing ovation

By Bryan Young
Ahmed Best Jar Jar

In place of STAR WARS WEEKLY, the SYFY WIRE series that rounds up the most important news of the week from a galaxy far, far away, we’re doing daily roundups from Star Wars Celebration. We’re still your own personal Star Wars Holocron, just more frequently this weekend.


The Phantom Menace came out 20 years ago and launched the very first Star Wars Celebration, held in Denver, Colorado, in 1999. It makes a lot of sense, then, that Celebration Chicago 2019 would end with a look back at that iconic film and the muddy party that was the original Celebration.

Host Warwick Davis brought out four luminaries who worked behind the scenes on those movies, John Knoll, Doug Chiang, Matthew Wood, and Jean Bolte, and let them explain some of the secrets behind The Phantom Menace.

The tidbit that needs to be reiterated most came from ILM guru (and Photoshop co-creator) John Knoll. “The Phantom Menace,” he told the audience “was the biggest production of physical models ILM has ever done.”

Which is to say that the film that spent a long time being referred to as an over-indulgent CGI-fest (inaccurate, in my opinion) was actually the most robust model movie they ever made.

After a half an hour passed with these four brilliant minds, Warwick Davis brought out the acting talent behind the film in pairs. First, Ian McDiarmid (Darth Sidious) and Ray Park (Darth Maul), and then Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks).
The biggest reaction came for Best, though. He received an extended standing ovation, and then the crowd began to chant his name. The vibe in the hall was electric with positivity and love for a man who was so bullied for his role in the first years after the movie that he contemplated suicide. He asked the crowd to stop, though, lest he break down in tears.

After the actors regaled the audience with tales and tidbits from the set, they reminisced about the very first Celebration and showed photographs of the muddy, snowy wasteland that was Star Wars Celebration I.


The cast and crew of Star Wars Resistance gathered on the Galaxy Stage at Star Wars Celebration to much fanfare. Cast members Donald Faison and Bobby Moynihan even jumped off the stage to run through the crowd, high-fiving fans.

There was much discussion about the state of the team after the events of the Season 1 finale. Christopher Sean, who plays Kaz Xiono, remarked that everyone on the show was a hero. “Except for Tam.”

In the most recent episode of the show, Tam Ryvora  (played by Suzie McGrath) seemed to throw her lot in with the First Order, so there was definitely faux tension among the different actors about that. In fact, it was revealed that the producers had inadvertently isolated McGrath from the rest of the cast and added to the tension the characters felt.

As the panel drew to a close, fans thought we were going to be getting a trailer for the second season of Resistance.

Unfortunately, there was no such trailer. Instead, they played the entirety of the Season 2 premiere.

The episode was heavily inspired by Aliens and the original Robotech series, and even had one hilarious nod to Jurassic Park. The crew of the Colossus is on the run from the First Order, but never made it to the Resistance base on D’Qar. Low on fuel, they race to get the station back up in working order so that they might help General Organa, but the First Order is hot on their heels, with the help of Tam Ryvora.

It was a great episode and promised a thrilling second season that will take us through the timeline simultaneously with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi and may well continue beyond it.

Sadly, there was no release date for the second season of Resistance.


Star Wars publishing has some surprises in store for fans in 2020.

There is literally no more information than that, but this assembly of authors working together in a collaborative way for a Star Wars project is thrilling news indeed. What it might be is anyone’s guess, but it sounds cool.


At the closing ceremonies of Star Wars Celebration Chicago, it was announced that the next Celebration would be held next year in Anaheim.

They didn't offer any more details than that, so keep your eyes peeled.

And that’s the big news from the last day of Celebration. We’ll be back Friday with our regularly scheduled Star Wars Weekly. Until then, may the Force be with you.