Making jokes about Jar Jar Binks and derisively discussing how much you hate the clumsy Gungan outcast is every Star Wars fans Force-given right. However, after hearing from the actor that played him, weesa might want to say we’re sorry for being so harsh.
In his YouTube series “These Are The Actors You’re Looking For,” Jamie Stangroom interviews people that have played roles of all sizes in the Star Wars franchise to ask them about their experiences. While he says most of the actors he has talked to have had “fond memories of their time in a galaxy far, far away,” Ahmed Best, the man behind Jar Jar, doesn’t feel quite so good about his involvement.
Best said he was originally hired just to play Jar Jar physically, but when he heard they were looking for someone to voice the character, he sent in an audition tape with “five or six different voices” and George Lucas chose him. Stangroom asked about the origin of Jar Jar’s “idiotic Jamaican” voice, and Best’s reply will make you feel like the worst.
“I would read a lot of stories to kids, my nieces and nephews, and my little cousins,” he said, “As I would do storybooks I would do different voices for the characters, and Jar Jar’s voice was kind of the character that I had, my generic little kid voice.” That’s right, the voice we all hate so passionately, the one we know was directed at kids, was personally designed for kids under very sweet circumstances.
As for the backlash, which continues to this day, Best says it was “painful” to experience. He said that one of the reasons he took the role was because it was so challenging since it “hadn’t been done before.” As he pointed out, his role predated Gollum and Avatar’s Navi, and he and George were “so focused on the challenge of it and having so much fun that the post-Star Wars stuff was a surprise” to him, a surprise that he took personally.
Best said he knew the character wasn’t going to be beloved during the first round of media for the movie when he was getting “outlandish” questions. As for the fans, he understands why they also hated the character, saying they probably felt “condescended to.”
Although, Best does point out that the target audience for the character, children, did like Jar Jar, and those kids are now adults who don’t hold that animosity for his character. That doesn’t mean he’d play Jar Jar in one of the new films though. “I think I’ve done my damage,” he said, “I think I did what I did, and I thought it was great.”
I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to piling on Jar Jar. I have Gungan blood on my hands. It’s just that I think Jar Jar Binks was an abominable character; a part so bad he greatly contributes to how awful The Phantom Menace is (and it’s bad enough without him). But to be honest, never once in my life have I blamed Ahmed Best for that. The prequels are entirely on George Lucas, and you can only give the performance asked of you, which Best did. I know as a Star Wars fan I’d be thrilled if I ever got a chance to meet him. Isa have no hard feelings for Best. Now I just hope he doesn’t have them for me.
This interview, while obviously kind of sad, is very honest and revealing, and Best seems to have found some peace with his role in the galaxy far, far away. Make sure you check it out, because they also discussed what it was like to “jump on Liam Neeson,” the good and (very) bad of the massive amount of Jar Jar merchandise that came out (yes, he talks about the famous tongue lollipop, and in fact, he got an apology for it from the head of marketing). Oh, and you’ll definitely want to hear the story about him meeting Michael Jackson, who wanted to play Jar Jar.
So what do you think? Have Star Wars fans been too hard on the silly Gungan? Weesa wanna hear what yousa gots to say in the comments below.
Star Wars Images: Lucasfilm
Ahmed Best: Jamie Stangroom/YouTube