If you were to ask 100 Star Wars fans who their least favourite character was, you’d probably get about 95 ‘Jar Jar Binks’ responses. The character, introduced in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, has grown to become the focus of an incredible amount of fan-hatred.
Amidst the enmity for one of George Lucas’ most regrettable creations, it’s easy to lose sight that an actor provided the voice for Jar Jar. That actor’s name is Ahmed Best, who has spoken out about the hatred directed at his character over the past 15 years.
Best spoke with Jamie Stangroom for a new YouTube series called These Are The Actors You’re Looking For, whose premise revolves around hunting down big and small actors who appeared in the Star Wars saga but are now forgotten about.
“Star Wars was my first ‘most hated’ title in anything really. It was painful. One of the biggest reasons I took it was because of the challenge of it—there was no Andy Serkis and Gollum, Navi fromAvatar, Martians, John Carter,” Best said.
“I was to be the template for this, so I was kinda working with George to pioneer this new character form of acting and storytelling. On set we were all just so focused on the challenge of it and having so much fun that the post-Star Wars stuff was a surprise. Even though you play characters, you put a lot of your own personality into it, you get emotionally and personally invested in the work that you do, it’s your work and you take pride in it. So when your work is criticised negatively, you feel a hit,” he continued.
“But by the same token,” Best adds, “the children really liked it. And George’s idea was to make a movie that lasted for 20-30 years, not to make a movie that lasted for one. So the children who saw Phantom Menace are now adults and they’re kind of wondering why everybody had a problem with Jar Jar.”
Best also spoke about the merchandising gaffes surrounding Jar Jar, including one particularly bad lollipop dispenser that was so poorly regarded, he received an apologetic phone call from the head of marketing.
“The worst one was a lollipop dispenser, that was ridiculous, I saw that thing and ran. That was bad, the head of marketing actually called me to apologise for that one,” he said.
Finally, Stangroom asked Best whether he would ever return to the Star Wars franchise. “No, I think I’ve done my damage,” he admitted. “I’m good with where I stand in the Star Wars universe.”
However, ending the interview on a light-hearted note, Best agreed to slip back into Jar Jar’s voice to perform Liam Neeson’s famous Taken monologue (starting at the 8:52 mark). Listen to the whole interview below thanks to Squareeyed for the catch: