Motion capture technology has become a vital part of modern filmmaking, and a lot of the current applications were pioneered by George Lucas and the crew of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Despite being one of the least popular characters in the franchise, Jar Jar Binks helped usher in a new wave of mo-cap performances that continues to this day.
But actor Ahmed Best has been forgotten in the wake of Andy Serkis' performances, despite coming years later. Wired posted a video of Serkis discussing the history of motion capture in which he referred to his work as Gollum on Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as to "where it all started."
In response, Best posted a heartfelt message in which he said denying his character's place in history "is to deny the hundreds [of crew] their respect."
Best is not celebrated alongside actors such as Serkis, who is often regarded as a pioneer in the field. But it's hard to believe the medium would be where it is today without the technical achievement of the crew for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
The actor said as much in a series of followup posts.
"Thanks for the love today especially the Star Wars fans. Jar Jar is bigger than just me or my performance," Best wrote. "As much as we actors are on the front line when it comes to the success or the failure of characters we play, what’s more important is the accomplishment of bringing the work to the screen. Jar Jar helped create the workflow, iteration process and litmus test for all CGI characters to this day on some days the code was being written in real time as I was moving.
"To deny Jar Jar’s place in film history is to deny the hundreds of VFX technicians, animators, code writers and producers their respect. People like John Knoll, Rob Coleman and scores of others who I worked with for two years after principal photography was ended to bring these movies to you. There’s a joke I like to use when talking about this stuff, Jar Jar walked so Gollum could run. Gollum ran so the Na’vi could fly. Thanks for lifting me up today."
Though it's hard to think Serkis was being purposefully disrespectful with his omission, Best does have a point. The work on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace preceded the first Lord of the Rings film by a couple of years, and the work from the talented crews at Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic deserves to be recognized no matter what.
Hopefully people start spreading more love for Jar Jar in the future.