Nearly 20 years after he first played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Ahmed Best has admitted that the backlash he faced was so severe that he considered taking his own life.
In a Twitter post Tuesday, Best referenced the “media backlash” he faced around the time Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released (though he didn’t name the film specifically) and the effect it had (and still has) on him.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
Best also makes reference to his young son, who he credits as his gift for survival. The tweet generated a great deal of support, including some words of encouragement from Yoda actor Frank Oz and Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, the latter of whom has faced a considerable amount of backlash and harassment from toxic Star Wars fans.
I LOVED Jar Jar Binks. I know I’ll get raked over the coals for saying that but I just will never understand the harshness of people’s dislike of him. I do character work. He is a GREAT character! Okay. Go ahead. Shoot. Gimme all ya got—but you’ll never make me change my mind. https://t.co/RHhhXUlU5C
— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) July 4, 2018
Lots of love to you Ahmed. I think there are many of us who’d get quite alot from hearing your story.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) July 3, 2018
The goofy CG character Jar Jar Binks was created with children in mind, but ended up becoming one of the most despised characters in the franchise, especially with fans of the original trilogy who felt he was out of place. Best hinted at the toll the Jar Jar backlash took on him in an interview with Wired last year.
“I had death threats through the internet,” Best told Wired. “I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood.’ That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”
Best isn’t the only Star Wars actor to face harsh criticism over the years. Fellow Phantom Menace actor Jake Lloyd credited the abuse he received for playing a young Anakin Skywalker as one of the main reasons why he decided to leave acting. More recently, young actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Kelly Marie Tran have all endured harassment online, with Tran going so far as to delete her Instagram account earlier this year after suffering months of racist and sexist abuse for her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.