Ahmed Best is getting us very excited for his return to the galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge. Expected to premiere on Disney+ this year (although it could be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic), the game show features young contestants vying for the title of Jedi Knight. Best serves as co-host alongside a wise-cracking droid voiced by Veep's Mary Holland.
Chatting with Star Wars documentarian Jamie Strangroom in the video below, Best (who is famous for playing Jar Jar Binks in the prequel films) promised that Temple Challenge will help bring the franchise back to its most basic roots. He prefaced this by explaining how the modern series, particularly the sequel trilogy, has shied away from the principles set down by George Lucas' original vision.
"This is the thing I think Star Wars is falling short of now: there really isn’t very much to believe in anymore," Best said. "The lack of faith in the mythology is really the thing I find to be missing. We don’t talk about the Force anymore in the Star Wars movies. We’re really about lineage and legacy ... and technology. But the thing that made Star Wars work was the Force. There were two sides: the light side and the dark side. But we all believed in the Force ... That’s what worked in the Lucas-verse when it came to Star Wars."
“So with Jedi Temple Challenge, it brings back this idea that we all have levels of connection to the Force, and you can actually grow your connection to the Force and it can become stronger through these trials at this temple," the actor continued. "All of those things that Yoda did with Luke Skywalker at Dagobah in the swamp, this is where it was first. It was in this temple. You had to get good here. I dig that. It’s something that I think would be wonderful for kids. Because now there’s a path to this thing ... Now there are actual steps you can take to being a strong Jedi. It gives you belief and faith.”
Following the intensely negative backlash to Episodes I - III and Jar Jar, Best struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a long time. Thankfully, he was able to step out into the light and discover an entire generation of kids who grew up loving his Gungan character. For example, when he walked onstage at Star Wars Celebration last year, Best received a standing ovation.
"George told me this years ago. He was like, 'The kids who love Jar Jar are gonna be adults and they're gonna love [him].' And he was right," Best told Stangroom. "I talk to a lot of people who are just like, 'Jar Jar made my childhood' and I'm with that. One of the reasons I did Jedi Temple Challenge is because it was those kids [who] lifted me up. And now they're adults and they have kids, and I wanna keep giving to the kids."
Best also believes that the fan theory about Jar Jar being a secret Sith lord helped reinforce his connection to and love for the Star Wars universe.
"It's quite fun to think of that idea and it goes along with the piece that's missing, which is the mythology," he said. "The faith piece, the thing to believe in. That's always been layered, that's always been deep. It's never just been this surface thing, it's never been lightsaber fights. It's always been a lot more than that."
Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge will (hopefully) start molding Jedis on Disney+ sometime in 2020.