Ahmed Best, the man who played Jar Jar Binks in the 1999 film “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace,” said the bashing he received from ardent fans of the franchise made him suicidal.
“20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” he wrote. “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.”
At the time of the film’s release, many said its creator George Lucas wrote the Binks character solely for children and to sell more toys. The character was silly, clumsy, made kiddie-like jokes and was accused of diluting an adult-themed storyline.
But Best was skewered on the internet, and before the movie was released a website called JarJarMustDie emerged. He also took a beating from critics including from one Vanity Fair writer who hated his character.
“Jar Jar has come to symbolize what many fans see as the faults of the prequel trilogy,” wrote the journalist. “Characters no one much cares about, a sense of humor geared toward the youngest conceivable audience members and over-reliance on computer graphics.”
In a 2017 interview, Best talked about the harsh criticism and said it was particularly hard to deal with because of his age.
“I had death threats through the Internet,” he recalled. “I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”
“There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain, there was a lot of sh– I had to deal with,” added Best. “Everybody else went on. Everybody else worked … I didn’t get another chance after Jar Jar. No one said, ‘You know, that didn’t work. But I believe in you, and you’re a good actor’ … But as soon as I started doing my own thing, that’s when things took off.”
After Best posted the photo with his son, he received a lot of positive words from fans and those who bashed him in the past, which he responded to.
As a person who bashed Jar-Jar left and right, its time I said I’m so sorry for contributing to that backlash. You didn’t deserve it, (still don’t deserve it) the hate and derision. I’m glad you’re still around.
Ideally a mature person can handle something they don’t like in a franchise, movie, TV show or otherwise. Why people see fit to attack others for something they only participated in is incredibly confusing and disturbing. I love Star Wars.
This is what always bothered me about Star Wars nerds who felt ownership of the franchise. It was never ours. It was always George’s story to tell. We either liked it or we didn’t. But we had no right to act like it was ours just because we paid to see it.
Thank you all for your love and kindness. Its been overwhelming. I’m gonna start writing this show. Gonna need help cause I’ve never done this before. I will be trying stuff out and posting it here. Let folks know. Thanks for all your support. It means so very much to me.