'I just wanted to disappear': Actor Ahmed Best on playing Jar Jar Binks 20 years ago

Best still feels connected to the role of Jar Jar Binks, which he performed 20 years ago, not only because it was a performance that he really cared about, but because the backlash created a low-point in his life that he had to endure.
'Me and the great Steven Speirs during The Phantom Menace,' actor Ahmed Best wrote on Twitter. Best played Jar Jar Binks, a role that would change his life for better — and worse. (@ahmedbest/Twitter)

Originally published on May 16, 2019

It's been 20 years since Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the first prequel of the Star Wars saga, was released. At the time, it was the hottest movie ticket of the year, with fans lining up for hours just to see it. But it also introduced arguably the most controversial character in the franchise: Jar Jar Binks.

Jar Jar Binks received tons of backlash when the movie came out for his slapstick humour, which eventually devolved into fan harassment and death threats against the actor who portrayed him, Ahmed Best.

It was Best's very first role in a major Hollywood blockbuster and it changed his life, for better, but also for worse. Recently, he's opened up online about the toll it took on his career and even his life.

Despite all of this, he's still very fond of the character, and is even developing a one-man show about all of it. Best joined q's Tom Power live from Los Angeles to talk about the legacy of Jar Jar Binks and what's next.

Download our podcast or click the 'Listen' link near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Ahmed Best.

— Produced by Miguel Santa Maria and Ben Edwards