Actor Behind Jar-Jar Binks, Ahmed Best, Reveals Backlash From The Phantom Menace Made Him Consider Suicide
As we have been dealing with the current backlash surrounding The Last Jedi, it’s important to remember that this is not the first time that the hate surrounding a Star Wars film has caused difficult outcomes for young actors involved. Ahmed Best, who was the body and voice behind Jar-Jar Binks, recently made a social media post about how the backlash he received affected his life.
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
The tweet shows a picture of Best and his young son as they look out at a scenic area. The Tweet reads: “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.”
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of The Phantom Menace. At the time, Best was 25-years-old and Jar-Jar was his first major role in a film. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the actor revealed he had received death threats because of the role: “I had death threats through the internet. I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”
Not only is it difficult to hear, but it’s also deeply unfair and cruel to Best, since he didn’t create the character. Hell, even if he did, sending death threats to him is so uncalled for.
Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker in the first movie, also received threats and scorn even though he was only a ten at the time. Mark Hamill, because he’s the best, spoke out back in 2017 during a Vulture interview about how the treatment Llyod got bothered him:
“I couldn’t believe some of the things they wrote about the prequels, you know. I mean really, beyond I didn’t like it. I’m still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd. He was only ten years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George wanted him to do. Believe me, I understand clunky dialog.”
I don’t remember exactly how I felt about Jar-Jar as a kid, I’m sure I laughed, but I know my brother loved him until he got old enough to realize the character was not great. And that’s the thing—yes, Jar-Jar is not a great character. He’s actually quite horrible, but that doesn’t mean sending Best death threats is any way to grapple with the character’s issues.
It doesn’t mean making a young boy decide to never act again because he has spent most of his life being a punching bag for people who hated The Phantom Menace.
Thankfully, people are being really supportive of Best, and I hope that if anything good comes from this entire deep dive into the way some Star Wars fans have really fucked up this fandom, it’s that we will call out this stuff more. Be critical, but don’t be evil. Don’t torment a man to the point he wants to take his life at the very beginning of his career because he was in a bad Star Wars movie.
Reminder that there are real people who make the media we consume and often feel so free to judge. https://t.co/Mdn3B6vD7W
— Jennifer de Guzman Strikes Again (@Jennifer_deG) July 3, 2018
Ahmed Best deserved better, I know this might not mean much but, I would like Star Wars Celebration to give him a panel of his own next year and just let him know that he did not deserve the backlash. https://t.co/bgE8IGUQn5
— Rron R2 is an Ang Lee Shill (@rron007) July 3, 2018
Those railing against Rian Johnson, or Kelly Marie Tran or any of the other people involved with #StarWars, take note. You’ve done this before, and nearly ruined this man’s life. This is why they don’t take you seriously. #ThisIsMyStarWars https://t.co/OXlMXOwj88
— Joseph Nevin (@JosephGNevin) July 3, 2018
Let’s be careful with each other. We are all precious. https://t.co/O9vEhE2SyA
— Coffee With Kenobi (@CoffeeWthKenobi) July 3, 2018
We were late calling this out before. Lt’s not be late again.
(via Twitter, image: Lucasfilm)
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