Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I, has opened up about the impact that the role had on his mental health, revealing that he even contemplated suicide following the backlash his character received nearly 20 years ago.
Best portrayed the Gungan character for the first time in the 1999 film, which carried the title The Phantom Menace. Binks only made slight appearances in the following two Star Wars movies Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which were released in 2002 and 2005 respectively.
The character, however, was subject to a major backlash from many Star Wars fans. Best has previously said that he’d never reprise the role as he said he’d “done my damage” to the franchise.
Taking to Twitter yesterday (July 3), Best reflected on the “media backlash” that he encountered back in 1999 for playing Jar Jar Binks.
“20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” he wrote underneath a picture of himself and his son. “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.”
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
The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson led the supportive messages for Best following his candid post, writing: “I think there are many of us who’d get quite a lot from hearing your story.” See a selection of the replies to Best’s tweet below.
Lots of love to you Ahmed. I think there are many of us who’d get quite alot from hearing your story.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) July 3, 2018
I LOVED Jar Jar Binks. I know I’ll get raked over the coals for saying that but I just will never understand the harshness of people’s dislike of him. I do character work. He is a GREAT character! Okay. Go ahead. Shoot. Gimme all ya got—but you’ll never make me change my mind. https://t.co/RHhhXUlU5C
— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) July 4, 2018
I’m impossibly glad you’re still here.
— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) July 3, 2018
Keep this kind of honesty in mind when you're thinking about piling on people in entertainment.
When people make things you don't like, they're not trying to hurt you. Choices are made, and sometimes they don't work for you, but they're not trying to injure you. https://t.co/DR0ZlX6onX
— Hilluminati (@bryanedwardhill) July 3, 2018
I, sincerely, just felt something in me break under the weight of shame. https://t.co/VT71Dk51Rs
— Bob Chipman (@the_moviebob) July 3, 2018
For the record: I always loved Jar Jar, I am not ashamed to love Jar Jar. I have a doll, a t-shirt, an action figure, even a towel. And no I was not a kid when TPM came out either. Some of us enjoyed his free spirit & courage. I wish more of us had known to speak up. https://t.co/4ercmNumWN
— Rebel Je'Daii (@SWForce4EU) July 4, 2018