In the wake of The Force Awakens, one YouTuber has put it on himself to track down the smaller actors from the Star Wars saga – and his latest interview with Ahmed Best, AKA the voice of Jar Jar Binks from Episode I – The Phantom Menace, has dished up a whole lot of insight from the performer. With Jar Jar being perhaps the most unloved character in all of pop culture, Best responds to questions concerning the backlash the character received all those years ago – and still receives now.
‘It didn’t put me off Star Wars… but yeah, it was painful. It was painful,’ Best answers. ‘I mean, this character – for me – had one of the biggest reasons why I took it, because of the challenge. It hadn’t been done before; there wasn’t any Andy Serkis or Gollum. There was no Na’vi from Avatar. There was no Martians from John Carter, to kind of be the template for this. I was kind of working with George [Lucas] to pioneer this new character form of acting, and storytelling. On the set, we were all just so focused on the challenge and had so much fun. The post-Star Wars stuff was kind of a surprise for me.’
Best was asked if he took the criticisms from the press to the heart. ‘Sometimes when you play characters, you put a lot of your own personality into it, and you get emotionally and personally invested in the work that you do… So when your work is criticised negatively, you feel a little bit of a hit.’
He was also asked why he thought the fans themselves didn’t take to the character : ‘I can totally understand why. Because when they see a character that’s purely comical and purely for the children, they felt probably kind of condescended to. And I can understand how they wanted more serious story. But, by the same token, the children really liked it, and George’s idea was to make a movie that lasted for twenty or thirty years; not to make a movie that lasted for one. So now the children who saw Phantom Menace are now adults, and they’re kind of wondering ‘why?’ everybody had a problem with Jar Jar.’
You can watch the full video below: it’s a really interesting watch, and goes into some weird and wonderful Jar Jar Binks merchandise, and how he met Michael Jackson – who wanted to play Jar Jar in The Phantom Menace (true story).