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25 Years After The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Actors Reflect On “Hurtful & Offensive” Jar Jar Binks Backlash


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Content warning: The following article contains references to suicide and self-harm.


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Summary

  • Liam Neeson reflects on the hurtful backlash towards his
    Star Wars
    co-star Ahmed Best’s character Jar Jar Binks, highlighting their personal hurt and offense.
  • Despite the unjust reaction, Best returned to the franchise in
    The Mandalorian
    , portraying a Jedi Master who becomes a hero and saving Grogu.
  • Best’s new role showcases his talent and prompts fans to reevaluate their perception of his original character, potentially leading to his character’s future appearances in the
    Star Wars
    universe.


Star Wars actor Liam Neeson has reflected on the “hurtful” backlash directed toward his co-star Ahmed Best 25 years after the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Widely regarded as one of the least popular characters in the Star Wars franchise, Best’s debut as the hapless Gungan Jar Jar Binks generated an unprecedented wave of backlash among the property’s passionate and highly vocal fandom. In 2018, ahead of the movie’s 20th anniversary, Best revealed that the flood of harassment that was being directed toward him personally once drove him to consider taking his own life.


Speaking with Empire ahead of the The Phantom Menace’s 25th anniversary, Neeson has reflected on the negative reactions Best faced for his role in the prequel movie. Fondly recalling Best’s humor and inventiveness on set, the actor revealed that both he and Ewan McGregor were personally hurt by the response to his character. Check out his comments below:


Ahmed was so funny and inventive. Myself and Ewan were personally hurt and offended by the critical reaction to the character.


Ahmed Best Has Returned To Star Wars In Style

Ahmed Best as Kelleran Beq in The Mandalorian season 3.


Despite the overwhelming, and often unjust reaction to Best’s role in the Star Wars prequel movies, the actor would eventually go on to return to the beloved sci-fi franchise in style courtesy of his appearance in The Mandalorian season 3. Reprising his role as the Jedi Master Kelleran Beq initially devised for the Star Wars themed children’s game show, Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge,Best would given the honor of becoming the hero responsible for saving Grogu from the Jedi temple during the events of Order 66.

In addition to playing Jar Jar Binks, Best also played a background character named Achk Med-Beq in the nightclub scene in
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.


Deftly wielding two lightsabers as he fought his way through legions of Clone Troopers, Best’s canonical Star Wars return was a vast departure from the slapstick-inspired antics of his previous character. Responsible for igniting an outpouring of affection for the actor who once bore the brunt of some the fandom’s more toxic behaviors, in many ways his new role almost feels like an apology for the reprehensible way he was previously mistreated for his time as Jar Jar.


As for Best’s future in the Star Wars universe, his swashbuckling Jedi Master has now officially joined the ranks of growing number of Jedi who would go on to survive Order 66. As such, it is entirely possible that audiences could expect to see more of his character, especially given the mystery surrounding the years between Grogu’s escape from the Jedi Temple and his eventual discovery by The Mandalorian’s Din Djarin. Meanwhile, his new role may even prompt some fans to rethink his original character in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and the other prequels.


Source: Empire


The Phantom Menace

Release Date
May 19, 1999

Runtime
136 minutes

Franchise
Star Wars

Budget
$115 million

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