Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best 'almost ended' his life after media backlash over 'Star Wars' prequel
Ahmed Best received several racist comments on playing the character of Jar Jar Binks which almost led the actor to consider suicide as an alternate option.
Ahmed Best, the actor, who gave the motion performance and voice of Jar Jar Binks in 'Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace' in 1999, revealed on Twitter that he "almost" killed himself over a media backlash which followed the movie's release almost 20 years ago. In the Twitter post, Best shared a picture of him and his son looking at the sea, and wrote: "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."
Jar Jar Bink had a major role to play in the first installment of the 'Star Wars' prequel trilogy. The character, who was inspired by the Walt Disney character Goofy, struggled to prove his worth throughout his life. He left his past behind in the swamps of Naboo to become the representative for his people and enter the Coruscant politics. However, his intentions were exploited by the Senators and several others who were in the position of power. A lot like his on-screen character, Best's life took a topsy-turvy turn after the first prequel when the media broke down upon him with racist backlash.
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
Jar Jar and Best were almost twin villains on the media with some tagging the character as a "kiddie-pleasing drag who was wesa- and mesa-ing his way through a grown-up movie." There were rumors which stated that he was merely George Lucas's scheme to sell more toys and just another borderline racist caricature. While writing about the 'The Phantom Menace' in 1999 in Vanity Fair, David Kamp referred to the character as a "clownish upright-lizard-like pal named Jar Jar Binks," one among the several alien characters who (except their voices) are entirely digitalized. While critics slammed down Jar Jar for being just another useless merchandise for the movie, fans created forums on the internet to pour out anti-Gungan comments and posts.
A site called JarJarMustDie.com was launched before the film's release, where numerous fans gave out loud and negative opinions about the character. The reception to his character was negative and Best, as Wired claimed, was stuck in a limbo of being infamous and anonymous in spite of playing the role of a prominent lead character. He says now, "It’s really difficult to articulate the feeling...You feel like a success and a failure at the exact same time. I was staring at the end of my career before it started.”
However, it doesn't seem that the actor has to fight the battle all alone. His twitter post received some immediate responses, including from filmmaker, 'Muppets' icon and Yoda actor/ puppeteer Frank Oz, who posted: "I LOVED Jar Jar Binks. I know I’ll get raked over the coals for saying that, but I just will never understand the harshness of people’s dislike of him. I do character work. He is a GREAT character! Okay. Go ahead. Shoot. Gimme all ya got—but you’ll never make me change my mind."
Rian Johnson, the writer/director of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi,' also reached out to the actor, saying: "Lots of love to you Ahmed. I think there are many of us who’d get quite a lot from hearing your story."
Reportedly, Best's post came amid the disturbances created on social media over toxic fandom. According to Huffington Post, 'The Last Jedi' actress Kelly Marie Tran left social media amid hateful posts against her character. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie also indicated on quitting the franchise after the kind of reception it received from toxic fans on social media.