Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Ahmed Best Wants Closure for Jar Jar Binks

Finally, after 25 years, it’s starting to dawn on people that their treatment of Star Wars‘ Ahmed Best was unfair.

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Best’s Phantom Menace character Jar Jar Binks was utterly slammed when the movie came out, and that meant Best had to deal with unjustifiable harassment. It was something no 0ne should ever have to go through, and Best’s contributions to motion capture technology ended up being swept away in the tide of hate.

But now, with The Phantom Menace back in cinemas, Best is speaking about what he endured and what he hopes becomes of the hapless Gungan Jar Jar, who is still part of the Star Wars universe after all these years.

Best laid the foundation for future motion capture movies

The actor and educator told People magazine, “I’m the first person to do this kind of work [motion capture performance], but I was also the first Black person, Black man.” And he brought a lot of talent to the role of Jar Jar. He recollected in the interview that the first time he did the Jar Jar voice, at a table read, everyone went “crazy”—leading Best to think, “OK, all right. I got that one out. I’m supposed to be here now.” It’s horrible that this was snatched away from him, as Jar Jar was made to, in Best’s words, “diminish and disappear” after The Phantom Menace. And no one was speaking up for Best and his performance. Best remembered,

My career began and ended. I didn’t know what to do, and unfortunately there was really no one that could help me, because it was such a unique position; it had never happened before in history. specially with the internet component. Now there’s an entire field of psychology based on it. But at the time, what do I say to a psychologist? I just tried to do the best job that I could do. But George [Lucas] is untouchable and everybody was untouchable. Who wasn’t untouchable? Me. Everyone came at me.

Star Wars fans took their disappointment about The Phantom Menace out on the actors—Jake Lloyd, a child at the time, was bullied too—and it remains a stain on fandom to this day. Best was so affected by the abuse that he’s shared he even came close to ending his own life. This has been common knowledge for a while now, but it shocked Star Wars fans when Best first revealed it … and it absolutely should have done.

“I didn’t want to hurt my family like that,” Best told People about that time. “So it was something bigger than me that made me walk away. I still was lost. I still couldn’t find my footing, and I just felt the injustice of it all. How could I have achieved such a wonderful thing, and then nothing?”

But luckily, people are now starting to fully appreciate Best and what he contributed to the world of Star Wars. Prequel lovers were delighted with his cameo appearance as Jedi Master Kelleran Beq in season three of The Mandalorian, and some of us—me included—also hope we might get more Jar Jar in the future. After all, Best continued to voice him in the animated series The Clone Wars, in the game Disney Infinity, and in a LEGO Star Wars short.

Is Jar Jar coming back to Star Wars?

Well, it turns out Best has some ideas about what he would like for Jar Jar if the character returned. There’s one canonical ending for the character already, in the Chuck Wendig novel Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End. There, Jar Jar suffers a sad fate—he’s banished from Gungan society and eventually becomes a street clown in the city of Theed. He performs for children, who love him as much as adults hate him. To plenty of people that seemed like a fitting end for Jar Jar, but not for Best.

“I would love just for there to be some really good closure, just to know what happened to Jar Jar. And then I don’t think it needs to be tragic,” Best told People. “There was this one piece of Star Wars literature where Jar Jar ended up being this homeless clown in the streets begging for money or something like that.”

“And I was like, ‘I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s Jar Jar’s fate.’ Jar Jar was spectacularly clumsy and failed upwards. He just was [a] wonderful character that always found a way to succeed. And I would love to know Jar Jar’s fate from there, even if it’s a scene that closes it.”

So could we see a happy, respected Jar Jar pop up in a Star Wars project one day? Here’s to hoping! In the meantime, though, Ahmed Best is returning to screens as a very different Jar Jar. He’s doing the voice for Darth Jar Jar—remember how “Sith Lord Jar Jar” used to be a popular fan theory and meme?—in the upcoming LEGO Star Wars: Rebuild the Galaxy. It’s the first time Best has returned to the character for almost a decade.

So after we all enjoy Darth Jar Jar, how about giving Best the closure he wants for real Jar Jar?

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


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Author
Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.