Jar Jar Binks Actor Reveals How "Star Wars" Backlash Affected His Mental Health

By David Konow 07/11/18

Ahmed Best made a surprising revelation on Twitter about how the Star Wars fandom's response to his character led him to a dark place emotionally.

Ahmed Best
Ahmed Best Photo via YouTube

When The Phantom Menace—the long-awaited Star Wars prequel—was released in 1999, a lot of fans were very disappointed, to say the least. And part of that disappointment was unleashed on the character of Jar Jar Binks.

The internet trolling on the character was so severe that, Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar, even thought of suicide.

Right as Episode One was being released, the internet and viral marketing were just starting to take off, and with countless trolls finding a new, and very public, way to unleash their venom, the character of Jar Jar got completely hammered.

As Best told Wired, he had a hard time coming to terms with the backlash, as well as the fact that he was universally hated, while at the same time he was also mostly anonymous to the world without his CGI alien character.

“It’s really difficult to articulate the feeling,” Best said. “You feel like a success and a failure at the exact same time. I was starting at the end of my career before it started… I had death threats through the internet. I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”

On July 3, Best posted a photograph of himself and his young son overlooking a harbor on Twitter. “20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” he wrote. “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.”

Best's candid revelation got a much different reaction from the net than his character Jar Jar did two decades ago. Frank Oz, the famed Muppet puppeteer who famously brought Yoda to life, told Best on Twitter, “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’s a GREAT character! Okay. Go ahead. Shoot. Gimme all ya got – but you’ll never make me change my mind.”

Best’s confession comes on the heels of Kelly Marie Tran—who played the lambasted character of Rose Tico in The Last Jedi—leaving social media after being excessively cyberbullied as well.

In her defense, Jedi director Rian Johnson tweeted, “Done with this disingenuous bullshit. You know the difference between not liking a movie and hatefully harassing a woman so bad she has to get off social media. And you know which of those two we’re talking about here.”

If you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, immediately seek help. Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.