It was a sobering moment last summer when Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best took to social media to recall how he considered suicide amidst the backlash to his role in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and in a new video for SoulPancake, the star reflects on the journey that took him to this dark place, and his subsequent recovery.
Over the years, Jar Jar has been the subject of more ridicule than perhaps any other element of the Star Wars saga, but in the recent video titled “That Moment I Opened Up About Suicide,” Best recalls his excitement at playing a major role in such a huge franchise, before sharing his perspective on the subsequent criticism received by the character.
Among his various observations, the actor addresses the common defense that all the insults directed at Jar Jar are purely a criticism of the character rather than the person who plays him, arguing that when you immerse yourself into a character as fully as he did for Jar Jar, it’s impossible not to take this backlash personally. Best then concludes the video with some thoughts on his heavily circulated social media post, recalling the warm response it received from people who could sympathize with his experience.
For many who saw the post, Best’s story was a cause for reflection. The Force Awakens actor Simon Pegg, for instance, remarked last year that he felt “so ashamed” about heaping so much ridicule on Jar Jar in the past, explaining that he never stopped to think that there was a real person behind the CGI figure.
Of course, even today, harassment in the fanbase remains an issue, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran being driven off social media last year by abuse from trolls who didn’t like her character. Evidently, there’s a lot of tension surrounding the franchise right now, and as the December release of Star Wars: Episode IX looms closer, you can expect online emotions to run all the higher.