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20 years later, Ahmed Best admitted that the backlash he felt after portraying Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels led him to consider taking his life

By Dave Quinn
July 04, 2018 12:32 PM
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He played one of the most mocked characters in film history — and now, almost 20 years later, Ahmed Best admits that the backlash he felt after portraying Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels led him to consider taking his own life.

In an emotional tweeted posted on Tuesday, Best, 44, opened up about one of his darkest days as he shared a photo of himself with his son, revisiting the place where he contemplated suicide.

The actor did not name the Star Wars films explicitly, but his first major film role (as Jar Jar in Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace) was released 19 years ago, in 1999.

jar-jar-binks
Ahmed Best, Jar Jar Binks
| Credit: Brian To/FilmMagic; Lucasfilm/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

“20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” Best tweeted, captioning a picture of himself and his son looking out on a bridge.

“This was the place I almost ended my life,” he continued. “It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival.”

Last July, Best spoke out about how he found his way through the public’s adverse reaction to Jar Jar.

Many had criticized the character for being too cartoony, slamming Star Wars creator George Lucas for inserting him in the story just to sell toys. Sites like JarJarMustDie.com were launched, while fan forums spent years mocking the character.

At the time, Best was just 25. “I had death threats through the internet,” he told Wired. “I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”

“There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain, there was a lot of s— I had to deal with,” Best added. “Everybody else went on. Everybody else worked. Everybody else was accepted by the zeitgeist.”

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As tough as it was, Best still remained with the character. He reprised it in a few of the franchise’s animated shows, including The Clone Wars. And he’s gone on to produce On Location with Ahmed Best, a series on starwars.com in which he chats with various cast and crew members.

“There are so many layers to Jar Jar that people did not look at because everyone was ready to be angry,” Best told Wired while looking back on the character. “There is a heart to Jar Jar that people don’t really get.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).