With any type of artistic endeavor, it’s difficult to pour your heart and soul into something—a movie, a book, a show, a painting—only to have people tear it apart and shit all over it. Usually there’s a time limit on this and before long people will move on to crap on something new, but that’s not always the case. On occasion something like, say, Jar Jar Binks from George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, is so reviled that the criticism never stops. Even after all these years, Ahmed Best, who portrays the hapless, much-maligned Gungan, says the insults still sting.
Ahmed Best was recently interviewed for a YouTube series called These Are The Actors You’re Looking For, where they track down actors who played a part in the Star Wars saga and ask them about their experiences. When the subject of his legacy as one of the most hated characters in pop culture came up, Best said:
It’s work, and you take pride in your work like any, dare I say, craftsman. So when your work is criticized negatively, you feel a little bit of a hit.
Ahmed Best has voiced the character in a number of places in the years since, including the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but it’s been more than a decade since the last prequel, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Even as much as I dislike the character, you have to feel bad for the guy that he’s still getting so much grief. There aren’t many people, actors especially, that would turn down the chance to be in a Star Wars movie. Best was probably totally psyched and it turns out that it totally screwed with his life.
At one point in this new interview, Ahmed Best even says that he wouldn’t come back to the Star Wars franchise even if he was asked, saying, "I think I’ve already done my damage."
Check out the whole interview below, there are some interesting bits, like when he Best talks about meeting Michael Jackson, who really wanted to play Jar Jar. It’s also totally worth it to see Best do an impression of Liam Neeson’s Brian Mills character from Taken as Jar Jar.
The backlash against Jar Jar Binks was almost immediate after Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace in 1999, with people criticizing the character for everything from being obnoxious and cloying to calling him a straight up racist caricature. He went from being a relatively large part of Episode I to having his presence trimmed down in Episode II: Attack of the Clones and even further in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Thus far in the revamped Star Wars universe, Lucasfilm and company seem to have avoided the pitfalls of its predecessors—no character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has raised the ire of fans like Jar Jar—but we’re only one movie deep, so we’ll have to wait and see.