Ahmed Best: The Phantom Menace cast loved his Jar Jar Binks voice

Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best recalls the reaction of co-stars when he debuted the voice of the Gungan at a The Phantom Menace table read.
Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace /

Ahmed Best's portrayal of Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace triggered a landslide negative reaction from the fans. However, it was an immediate hit with the rest of the cast, which included Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd.

On the occasion of Episode I's 25th anniversary, Best spoke with People about using the signature Jar Jar voice for the first time during a table read for the movie. He admitted that he was initially nervous about debuting the voice but went ahead with it anyway.

Best shared, "I was like, 'I might do it, I might not.' And as I'm reading as the first few pages go by, I'm in my head, 'Do I do this voice? Do I not do this voice? What do I do?'"

But once he saw the cast reacting positively, he grew confident about his place at the table.

"I was just like, 'Everybody sounds so good. Am I going to do this voice or not?' And then I see the character name coming up and I was like, '[Expletive] it.' And I just do it. And everybody in the room goes crazy for it. So I was like, 'OK, all right. I got that one out. I'm supposed to be here now.'"

Ahmed Best

Initially introduced as comic relief, the "clumsy" Gungan made history as the first main character in a feature live-action film created through motion-capture technology. Best was the first-ever actor to play such a role.

Despite all that, the fan vitriol even before the movie's release was bad enough to make him quit acting for a while and even contemplate suicide. The online hate, which he labeled as "the first textbook case of cyberbullying," included death threats.

"I just tried to do the best job that I could do," he said, "But George [Lucas] is untouchable and everybody was untouchable. Who wasn't untouchable? Me. Everyone came at me."

Best returned to Star Wars last year in the third season of The Mandalorian, but not as Jar Jar Binks. In a flashback sequence, he played Jedi knight Kelleran Beq, who saved a young Grogu during Order 66. It was a role he first played in the webseries Jedi Temple Challenge.

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