It’s safe to say that Ahmed Best’s most famous role is also his most divisive. While he may now be about to star in a new Seth MacFarlane comedy (called 2 Black Dudes) and has spent years performing music, to many he’ll always be the critically-maligned Jar Jar Binks, the clumsy CGI sidekick from Star Wars prequel the Phantom Menace – and Best has now revealed that the negative response to his role had serious repercussions for his career.
“The backlash did affect me getting work,” Best said in an interview for Star Wars reunion webseries These Are The Actors You’re Looking For (below).
“There was nothing like it before and nobody wanted to take the risk on me, the actor.”
“[Motion capture] didn’t really become a thing until Andy Serkis did it, and then people realised this is a viable thing. Before that the only example people had was me. LucasFilm didn’t really promote me the actor as much as WETA and Peter Jackson promoted Andy Serkis the actor.”
And Best says that a combination of the Jar Jar backlash and his lack of recognition led to difficult times.
“I wanted to be a character actor, I wanted to disappear into these roles. I didn’t want to be known as me,” Best recalled. “When I did, it was really about the technology.
“So people really didn’t know that the guy behind it really was a character actor. When I moved out to LA it was incredibly difficult. No-one recognised me.
“It did inhibit me from getting other work.”
Still, Best now says he thinks the experience was a valuable one, forcing him to go back to his roots.
“It was theatre and acting in commercials that brought me back to this thing,” he said. “I had to really go back to the beginning, and to be honest it made me better.”