George Lucas has reiterated that Jar Jar Binks is his favourite Star Wars character of all time, prompting a backlash.
The creator of the sci-fi franchise said so in a pre-recorded video message that aired during the recent Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago, shown ahead of the 20th anniversary panel for The Phantom Menace.
“Thank you for coming to the Celebration,” Lucas said the introduction video. “[The Phantom Menace] is one of my favourite movies and of course Jar Jar is my favourite character. Ahmed [Best], you did a fantastic job. It was very, very hard.”
Best portrayed the character – inspired by Disney’s Goofy – in the 1999 movie, which made history by including the first fully CGI character in a live-action film.
But Jar Jar Binks has long been derided as the franchise’s weakest character and was accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes, sitting at odds with Lucas’ opinion.
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One fan wrote in response: “I’m still waiting for George Lucas to release a special edition of The Phantom Menace with Jar Jar Binks completely removed from all existence.”
“I think the Star Wars prequels would have been better received by fans and critics if George Lucas had written Mr Blobby as the lead Gungan over Jar Jar Binks,” another user quipped.
Some support Lucas, however. “I really love Jar Jar Binks and I cannot believe THAT’S what I have in common with George Lucas”, a Twitter user wrote, while another said: “He’s certainly the closest thing to an interesting Star Wars character.”
He's certainly the closest thing to an interesting Star Wars character. If Episode IX was any good, an ancient Jar Jar would turn out to be the ultimate hero and save the entire galaxy from that bloke who looks like a horse. https://t.co/N2qiPFWFJt
— Jem Roberts (@JemRoberts) April 17, 2019
Elsewhere, another user wrote: “Give it up George, you ruined the originals with your stupid CGI additions, made 3 pointless follow ups, and reading this article almost drove an actor to suicide for creating one of the stupidest characters in film. Not the actors fault, yours…”
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
“Twenty years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” Best wrote as the caption to a photo of himself and his son standing by a river. “This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival,” he wrote.
The actor went on to reprise Binks in Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) with significantly less screen time.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace officially marks its 20th anniversary on May 19.