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Samuel L. Jackson: Lay Off Jar Jar

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Actor Samuel L. Jackson wishes people would cut his “Star Wars” series costar Jar Jar Binks some slack. The jive-talking, half-donkey-or-whatever has been taking it on the chin ever since he first appeared in 1999’s “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” and, reports the Associated Press, Jackson, 53, who plays Mace Windu in that and in the current “Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” thinks that picking on Binks is just plain “stupid.” Jar Jar, who was nominated for several Golden Raspberries (or “Razzies”) for being one of the most annoying characters ever on the big screen, was first judged upon his movie debut by Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern as “a Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit on platform hoofs, crossed annoyingly with Butterfly McQueen.” Though his part is greatly reduced in “Episode II,” Jar Jar is still there, though he is somewhat subdued since the last time. Jackson, according to AP, insists that some people have read more into the part racially than they should have because Jar Jar (who, in fact, is digitally animated) was voiced by a black man, Ahmed Best. “The fact that Ahmed was doing that character may have sent people to that place. But people want to find things, or they want to assign things to everything. And that’s not always necessary.” “Clones” costar Hayden Christensen, 21, who plays a young Anakin Skywalker, agrees, according to AP. “I think he’s a fine character. Hopefully after seeing ‘Episode II,’ (critics will) sort of realize his purpose in these films. Sometimes you need silly characters to do silly things.” Actually, PEOPLE critic Leah Rozen, no fan of Jar Jar when she reviewed “The Phantom Menace” three years ago, doesn’t even mention him in her recent review of “Attack of the Clones.” Perhaps that’s progress.