Michael Jackson Wanted To Play Jar Jar

If the “Star Wars” franchise has a nadir, it would have to be Jar Jar Binks. The reviled floppy eared character first appeared in “Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace” and quickly came to represent all that is wrong with the prequels. Sidelined in the subsequent two instalments, there’s no plans to bring him back for the moment.

The man who voiced the character, actor Ahmed Best, spoke with Vice this month – a full sixteen years after he first voiced the character. Surprisingly, Best revealed that George Lucas had told him that Michael Jackson was originally keen on the part and wanted to do it in prosthetics and make up:

“Me, Natalie Portman, and George’s kids – we were at Wembley Arena at Michael Jackson’s concert. We were taken backstage and we met Michael. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as ‘Jar Jar’ and I was like, ‘That’s kind of weird.’ Michael was like, ‘Oh. OK.’ I thought, ‘What is going on?’

After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big afterparty. I’m having a drink with George and I said, ‘Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?’ He said, ‘Well, Michael wanted to do the part but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like Thriller.’ George wanted to do it in CGI.

My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that.”

Best also doesn’t let the criticism of the character get to him personally, though his eight-year-old co-star Jake Lloyd had a much harder time dealing with the backlash:

“It’s a very American thing to take somebody down when they’re at the top and a lot if it had to with that; people really wanted to see George crash and burn.

Unfortunately, this character was so new, so experimental; he became a lightning rod for all that. It was me, and it was [original Anakin Skywalker] Jake Lloyd who took a lot of the heat for the movie.

Fortunately, I was in my 20s. I wasn’t eight years-old like Jake, who I think took it worse. Jake had it far worse than me. I’m a 20-year-old from from the Bronx; I’ve seen and I’ve done things that were a lot harder than criticism in that newspaper.

Although it hurt me emotionally and it was hard to take at the time, it wasn’t debilitating for me. I just put my shoes on and went back to work. But Jake had a difficult time.”

For the full interview with loads more, head over to Vice.com.

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