The Actor Who Played Jar Jar Binks Is Proud of His ‘Star Wars’ Legacy

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Ahmed Best is a futurist, an educator, a martial artist, a writer-director and the actor behind Jar Jar Binks, the most hated character in the “Star Wars” universe.

Long-eared Jar Jar is a bipedal amphibianlike creature with an ungainly walk and a winning attitude. The groundbreaking, computer-generated goofball debuted in the first installment of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” and instantly set off widespread criticism from both fans and the press.

“It took almost a mortal toll on me. It was too much,” Best recently recalled. “It was the first time in my life where I couldn’t see the future. I didn’t see any hope. Here I was at 26 years old, living my dream, and my dream was over.”

Now 50, Best is the picture of panache who could easily be mistaken for an off-duty rock star. He arrived at our interview riding a motorcycle and wearing a blue denim jacket, black jeans and stylish shades.

Best has continued to play Jar Jar Binks in animated “Star Wars” shows and video games. “It’s big and it tends to overtake your life,” he said.Credit…Daniel Dorsa for The New York Times

In the presence of Best’s self-assured demeanor, it’s even more shocking to learn that back in 1999 the vitriol fans flung at Jar Jar, and in turn at him, ravaged his mental health. But he revisited these memories a few weeks before the movie’s return to theaters on Friday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its release.

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