It’s pretty safe to say that Jar Jar Binks is the most hated character in the Star Wars franchise. That probably wasn’t the intended response when George Lucas created Jar Jar and cast Ahmed Best as the voice of his entirely CGI character in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. But the alternative is even more horrifying.
Best has revealed that the role of Jar Jar Binks was coveted by none other than the late Michael Jackson. In fact, Jackson wanted to portray Jar Jar in live-action with makeup and prosthetics.
“Me, Natalie Portman, and George’s kids – we were at Wembley Arena at Michael Jackson’s concert,” explained Best. “We were taken backstage and we met Michael. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as ‘Jar Jar’ and I was like, ‘That’s kind of weird.’ Michael was like, ‘Oh. OK.’ I thought, ‘What is going on?’ After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big afterparty. I’m having a drink with George and I said, ‘Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?”’He said, ‘Well, Michael wanted to do the part but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like Thriller.’ George wanted to do it in CGI.”
Best speculated that “ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think [Lucas] wanted that.”
Jackson had previously starred in the short film, Captain EO (pictured above) that was produced by Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola for an attraction in the Walt Disney theme parks back in 1986. Aside from Captain EO, Jackson’s biggest acting role outside of his own movie-style music videos was in the 1978 film, The Wiz as the Scarecrow.
Given the reception that Best got as Jar Jar, it seems unlikely that Jackson would have been any more warmly received by Star Wars fans. But it is a fascinating “what if?” scenario.
To all of the Jar Jar haters, keep in mind that Best did reprise his role for Jar Jar Binks’ greatest moment: a Robot Chicken sketch entitled “Jar Jar Returns.”