Twenty years ago, then 25-year-old young actor Ahmed Best scored the role of a life time – a key new character who would star opposite veterans Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in what was one of the most anticipated movies ever made – “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”.
When the film opened however, Best’s character of Jar Jar Binks became emblematic of not just the film’s problems but the disappointment of an entire generation of devout fans. As such he became one of the first victims of the kind of toxic fandom abuse that has surged once again in recent months following the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”.
Even more vitriolic now in an age of social media and anonymous accounts, director Rian Johnson and several of the stars have spent several months on the receiving end of an unjustifiable level of abuse from fans who blame them for a perceived slight or betrayal. For half a year they’ve been dealing with what Best has been living with for half his life.
In a social media post on Tuesday, Best revealed that the reaction he personally received led to him considering suicide. Showing a photo of himself and his kid at a seaside location, he says: “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.”
The post follows on from comments to Wired magazine last year in which he revealed he’d: “had death threats through the internet. I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood’. That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”
The actor and musician has reportedly been considering performing a one-man show timed to the anniversary of ‘Phantom Menace’.
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