Star Wars Celebration is always a huge event and this year was no different. In addition to The Rise of Skywalker trailer, fans were also treated to a look back at The Phantom Menace, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Ahmed Best, who portrayed Jar Jar Binks in the prequel trilogy, was recently interviewed and admits to not originally being in the mood to go celebrate at the event, even though it was partly to celebrate the work he contributed to. Jar Jar Binks has been the punching bag of the Star Wars franchise for 20 years now.
Over the past few years, The Phantom Menace has been looked at in a more positive light as younger fans who grew up with the prequel trilogy become adults. There has been a whole lot of other things for Star Wars fans to rage against lately, including The Last Jedi and Disney's overall acquisition of Lucasfilm. It seems this set the perfect storm for Ahmed Best to attend this year's Celebration. He explains.
"To be very honest, I was very afraid to go to Celebration. Every time I'm in a Star Wars setting, I spend most of my time defending our work and defending Jar Jar. And I just don't want to do that anymore. So I was very reluctant to come to Celebration because of that, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't the case at all. I just felt nothing but love and respect and admiration for the work we did. I couldn't have been more proud and I couldn't have been happier. I wish George (Lucas) was there because I think we're at a time right now where we have to stand in that work. We have to say, 'We did it,' and step into that in a very proud way, because it stands the test of time."
Ahmed Best has been very vocal about the struggles he went through after the prequel trilogy wrapped. At one point, he even considered taking his own life due to the intense backlash against Jar Jar Binks. Thankfully, Best is in a much better place these days and enjoys how The Phantom Menace is accepted now. Best went on to talk about the visionary work of George Lucas and how proud he is to have worked in the Star Wars universe. He had this to say.
"George Lucas is a futurist. That guy can see 20, 30, 50 years into the future. As an artist and as a creator and as an innovator, he's done things that no one else has done, no one else has even thought of. I know the fan backlash of 20 years ago was loud, but that's really all it was. It was just loud. And now we have to be louder in our pride for this thing, because we have an army behind us of people who love those movies."
George Lucas recently commented about how bad Jar Jar Binks had it when The Phantom Menace was released and the years after. He attributes it to the internet and notes that the same kind of hate was around for C-3PO and the Ewoks during the original trilogy. However, in the case of Threepio, Lucas doubled down and used him more. For Jar Jar, that was not the case, as he was scaled back in the other prequel installments.
The internet ended up taking the Jar Jar Binks hate and spreading it to every hardcore Star Wars fan, which in turn, made it huge news. Negativity often spreads a lot quicker than positivity these days, but Ahmed Best is happy to have most of the hate behind him now. The Phantom Menace is enjoying a new outlook these days and Best is proud of the work. You can read the rest of the interview with Best over at Star Wars.