Last summer, Star Wars actor Ahmed Best took to Twitter to share a photo of himself with his son, revealing to fans that he had considered ending his life in that exact spot the photo was taken due to the harassment he received in the aftermath of his performance of Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels. In a new video for SoulPancake, the actor opens up about the thoughts he had that led him to that moment and what inspired him to move forward. Check out the touching video above.
Expectations for the first new Star Wars film in more than 15 years were incredibly high, with fans not entirely knowing what to expect from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In addition to exploring new themes narratively, advances in technology allowed George Lucas to push his films forward in all-new ways.
Of the many issues that critics took with the new film, one of those was Jar Jar Binks, as his character served as more of a jester in the narrative than a beloved creature like Chewbacca. Jar Jar ended up being a punchline for many jokes about the prequel series, seemingly serving as the embodiment of experimenting with technology merely for the sake of doing so and incorporating more child-like elements into the film than fans were expecting.
In the above video, Best explains the thrill of getting to be involved in such an exciting film, while also noting the lows of experiencing years of harassment. The actor points out in the video that, while some fans dismiss these insults by claiming they aren't attacking the performer but merely the character, this is an irrelevant distinction, given how much a performer injects themselves into a character.
Sadly, subjecting actors and filmmakers to endless amounts of harassment merely because you didn't like the decisions that were made isn't something that has gone away in Star Wars fandom, with the prominence of social media arguably making "fandom" even more toxic than ever.
Both Daisy Ridley and Loan Marie Tran, stars of the sequel trilogy, have deleted their social media accounts in the wake of being harassed by "fans." The harassment even impacted George Lucas, noting that he parted ways from the saga partially due to the response of fans.
"Why would I make any more," Lucas shared with The New York Times in 2012, "when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?"
The next film in the Star Wars saga, Episode IX, is slated to debut this December.