Jar Jar Binks Actor Ahmed Best Says that the Controversial ‘Star Wars’ Characters Paved the Way for Other CGI Characters

Jar Jar Binks Actor Ahmed Best Says that the Controversial 'Star Wars' Characters Paved the Way for Other CGI Characters
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When Jar Jar Binks appeared in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999, many hardcore fans of the original trilogy thought that Lucas had gone nuts and that Jar Jar was an insult to the franchise created solely to be kid-friendly, i.e., to attract (new) children to the franchise as well. So what? Jar Jar Binks was definitely the odd one out, but yours truly personally liked the character as an elementary schooler and it really helped liking Star Wars even more, especially since yours truly had seen the original trilogy on television before The Phantom Menace appeared.

Still, the character has remained controversial ever since, and the actor who portrayed him, Ahmed Best, has had a rough time defending his most famous role, which he reprised in many spin-off works. Recently, Best talked to The New York Times and gave us an interesting interpretation of Jar Jar’s importance, not just for the Star Wars franchise but the evolution of movie characters in general.

Viewed as a racial stereotype at the time, Jar Jar both launched and immediately destroyed Best’s career at the time, with the actor recalling in the interview:

It took almost a mortal toll on me. It was too much. It was the first time in my life where I couldn’t see the future. I didn’t see any hope. Here I was at 26 years old, living my dream, and my dream was over.”

But, while Jar Jar was attacked back then, the fans have grown to the character, and in light of the criticisms directed at Disney’s Sequel Trilogy, the whole Prequel Trilogy has been reevaluated, and Jar Jar with it. Best comically added that Jar Jar “was probably also the first cyber-bullied pop culture character ever.”

Best also commented on how Jar Jar was viewed as a stereotype, explaining that the lines he had to read were Lucas’ and not his, adding that Star Wars has a history of “controversial” characters, explaining that it actually added to the franchise’s success: “Back in the day, Chewbacca was seen as the Black character,” he continued. “And then Yoda was ridiculed for being an Asian stereotype. Then the Neimoidians were ridiculed for being an Asian stereotype. ‘Star Wars’ has had a history of being a lightning rod. That’s because it’s so successful.”

He also commented on how Star Wars is a changing franchise, and how it has been evolving over the years: “There are a lot of people who want to see Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Darth Vader for the rest of their lives, and they don’t realize that ‘Star Wars’ is changing.” He also added that if they ever wanted a Black protagonist, he was always available.

Ultimately, Best commented on how Jar Jar actually influenced a whole plethora of characters from later movies, how the technical innovations used in crafting Jar Jar in such a realistic manner paved the road for all future CGI characters, affirming his opinion that Jar Jar is undoubtedly a part of history:

I’m in there. You can’t have Gollum without Jar Jar. You can’t have the Na’vi in ‘Avatar’ without Jar Jar. You can’t have Thanos or the Hulk without Jar Jar. I was the signal for the rest of this art form, and I’m proud of Jar Jar for that, and I’m proud to be a part of that. I’m in there!

These are just the most important excerpts from the interview in which Best discussed other topics as well. If you want to read the whole thing, simply click here, as it is a very interesting and engaging piece of reading.

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