Actor Ahmed Best had a chilling moment of self-reflection. After playing the character of Jar Jar Binks throughout the Star Wars franchise (per The Hollywood Reporter, his debut film role was in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, 1999), Best shared how the non-stop criticism of his character made him contemplate suicide.
In a Twitter post on July 3, Best said the thoughts have been churning in his head for nearly 20 years. The 44-year-old showed his followers the location where he “almost ended my life,” and that the moment is “still hard to talk about.” His portrayal of Jar Jar Binks appeared two more times in the Star Wars franchise: Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. 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. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
Once Best’s reenactment of Jar Jar Binks came to life, critics and moviegoers swiftly expressed their displeasure with the CGI character. Wired’s profile of Best mentioned a Wall Street Journal write-up that referred to Jar Jar Binks as a “Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit.” Best said he also received death threats and “I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.” The New York City native added that while the other actors continued to work or be “accepted by the zeitgeist,” he had to deal with the tears, pain and “a lot of sh*t” that came with the public’s poor reception to his character.
Despite the backlash, Best beamed in the fact that he was part of a new wave of technology on the silver screen that influenced future movies. “For Star Wars, I was a part of this new hybrid-performance technology that eventually ended up changing movies,” he said. “That put me in this very, very forward-thinking mindset.”
In June 2018, another Star Wars actor had to cut back on her social media usage after facing the intense backlash from moviegoers on her Asian background and performance. Kelly Marie Tran, who was dubbed the first lead actress of color in a Star Wars film (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2017), received hateful messages on her social media accounts and highlighted the outcome of cyberbullying.