Jar Jar Binks became a laughingstock in “Star Wars” and pop culture as a whole. But the man who played him, Ahmed Best, said Tuesday that negative fan reaction took a heavy toll on his life.
Best posted a picture with his son, overlooking New York Harbor, on Twitter Tuesday, confessing that while his relationship with his child has helped him immensely, the harbor was the place where he nearly took his own life.
“20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” wrote Best. “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.”
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
Best has spoken in the past about the negative impact the Jar Jar backlash had on his life. In an interview with Wired, the actor said that after “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” came out, he felt as if he was “staring at the end of my career before it started.”
“There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain, there was a lot of shit I had to deal with. Everybody else went on. Everybody else worked. Everybody else was accepted by the zeitgeist,” Best said. “To be honest, failing and being black is very scary, because we don’t get a lot of chances, you know? I didn’t get another chance after Jar Jar.”
Best isn’t the only “Episode I” star whose life took a turn for the worst after the long-awaited film was panned. Jake Lloyd, who played the boy Anakin Skywalker, revealed in a 2012 interview that the reaction to his role at school and in public drove him to quit acting. In 2015, he was arrested for reckless driving and was later moved to a psychiatric facility after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
More recently, director Rian Johnson and several members of the cast of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” have faced regular harassment on Twitter, with actresses Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran closing their Instagram accounts.
Johnson, who remains active on Twitter and rarely responds to the harassment, discussed Tran’s social media departure last month.
“I will say she’s happily living her life in grand Kelly style, I’m glad she’s cut this distraction out of it,” he wrote.
I will say she’s happily living her life in grand Kelly style, I’m glad she’s cut this distraction out of it. I’m bummed we all lose out on her IG posts, she was awesome on it. ❤
– Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 8, 2018
Last week, Johnson’s friend and fellow filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie said in a tweet that the reaction from angry “Star Wars” fans made him want to stay far away from directing an installment of the franchise.
“My friend, After five minutes of this, I don’t know why you’re still on Twitter,” McQuarrie tweeted to Johnson. “I would have loved to make a Star Wars film someday. I’m cured.”