Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best got candid about his experience with the backlash to his Star Wars: The Phantom Menace character while on the red carpet (see the photos) for The Rise of Skywalker on Monday night.
Best is returning to the Star Wars universe as the host of a Disney+ game show titled Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, which is coming to the streaming service in 2020. During the Disney premiere pre-show, the actor opened up about returning to the Star Wars fold two decades after the 1999 film, where his character was intensely derided by original trilogy fans yet has since been embraced by many younger fans.
“For lot of years Star Wars lost a bit of that child-like joy for me,” Best said. “Going through what I went through as Jar Jar was difficult because while you’re in it and while you’re shooting, it’s such a wonderful bubble. And you’re doing so much creating and collaborating with brilliant minds… We’re all coming together and making this thing, and then we put it out there and you have no control of what it’s going to be when it goes out there, and everybody’s gaze is going to be different. The one thing about the Star Wars universe that no other universe has is, everyone takes it personally. Every individual who is a Star Wars fan, it’s their Star Wars. So it’s virtually impossible to make everybody happy. So you have to put in that energy, that love, that hope, that faith and reasons why you do this thing… You have to imbue that into every story you tell.”
Best has long been open about the difficulty of fandom’s reaction to the character, and has said the backlash even led him to consider suicide at one time. But he ultimately came to terms with his place in Star Wars, telling EW in 2012, “I’m proud of it, I’m glad I did it, and I’d do it again. Because it’s a part of history. Not a lot of people can say that.”
As for the new series, Best said Jedi Temple Challenge is aimed at kids 10 to 14, “and is really about how Padawans become Jedi, and it’s about this world you don’t really see in Star Wars… We don’t see the training. And some of my favorite parts of Shaolin kung fu movies was when they would go into Shaolin and do these tasks and then they’d know kung fu. Jedi Temple Challenge is like that, only it’s the Force… I tried to weave a lot of Jedi folklore and character into the show… We’re really creating that world of the Jedi Temple.”
Watch the red carpet video above for more from Best. His interview begins around 1:09:43.