Ahmed Best: ‘Michael Jackson Wanted to Play Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Prequels’
Michael Jackson reportedly wanted to don a full suit of prosthetics and heavy make-up to achieve the look of the giant fictional Gungan species, but director Lucas was not interested.
Ahmed Best eventually landed the role as the voice of Jar Jar Binks, which was created from computer generated imagery for 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and its two sequels, but he insists the character could have been very different had Jackson gotten his way.
He tells Vice, “That’s what George told me. Me, (co-star) Natalie Portman, and George’s kids – we were at Wembley Arena (in London) at Michael Jackson’s concert. We were taken backstage and we met Michael. There was Michael and (his then-wife) 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 after-party. 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 make-up like (in the video for his track) Thriller.’ George wanted to do it in CGI. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that.”
The character was poorly received by critics and fans of the Star Wars franchise alike, but Best refused to let the harsh comments upset him.
He says, “To be 100 per cent honest, none of us, as we were shooting this, had any idea that anything like this (backlash) was going to happen.”
“At the end of the day, it is the movie business, and if the character doesn’t work for the people who watch the movie, then the character doesn’t work. I can’t take that personally.”