Ahmed Best, who played the Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks, has implied that the negative reactions that he got from his role left him suicidal for a time.Jar Jar Binks
This comes from his Twitter account, where he posted a picture of himself with his young son. “20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life,” he wrote. “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.”
Jar Jar, a member of the alien species known as the Gungans, originally appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the first of the prequel movies. Intended as a comic relief character (he was actually based on Disney’s Goofy), his slapstick antics and weird speaking pattern (“Me-sa called Jar Jar Binks, me-sa your humble servant!”) led to a poor reaction from audiences. Some even noted that he had characteristics of old blackface characters. (For the record, Best is black.)
Best continued to play the character in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, though his part was notably smaller due to the poor fan reaction. He remains the main actor for Jar Jar in other media, both official and not; he even won an Annie Award for his role in the parodic Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II.
Over time, opinion on the prequel films has improved, in part from a new generation of fans who grew up with them. And whatever the problems with his writing, Best’s portrayal of Jar Jar was a huge leap for CGI, making the way for The Lord of the Ring‘s Gollum a few years later.
Whatever one thinks of Jar Jar Binks as a character, it is certainly troubling to know that Best was in such a low place due to fan reaction. A similar thing happened with Jake Lloyd, who portrayed Anakin Skywalker as a child but wound up quitting acting because of how much his peers picked on him. Even today, the polarizing nature of The Last Jedi has led to Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) being harassed on social media, to the point where she recently deleted her Instagram account.