'Star Wars' Actor Ahmed Best Reveals He Contemplated Suicide After Jar Jar Binks Backlash
By Meredith B. Kile
Getty Images/20th Century Fox
Star Wars star Ahmed Best is opening up about becoming suicidal after receiving major backlash from media and fans.
The 44-year-old actor -- who provided the voice and motion capture for Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel films The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith -- took to Twitter on Tuesday to open up about his emotional journey, sharing a photo of him and his son overlooking New York Harbor.
"20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today," wrote Best. "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."
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
The prequel films are a hot-button topic among the notoriously rabid Star Wars fan base, with Jar Jar Binks -- perhaps one of the worst-received characters in the epic space franchise's sprawling canon -- serving as a lightning rod for many fans' dissatisfaction with the prequels as a whole. The backlash took a major toll on Best's emotional well-being, as well as his career aspirations.
“It’s really difficult to articulate the feeling,” the actor told Wired last year. “You feel like a success and a failure at the exact same time. I was staring at the end of my career before it started.”
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“There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain, there was a lot of shit I had to deal with. Everybody else went on. Everybody else worked. Everybody else was accepted by the zeitgeist," he added. “To be honest, failing and being black is very scary, because we don’t get a lot of chances, you know? I didn’t get another chance after Jar Jar.”
Best isn't the only Star Wars star to face a reactionary response from the iconic franchise's fanbase. Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran both left Instagram following their massive newfound fame after starring in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, respectively. Tran faced racially charged backlash after becoming Star Wars' first Asian lead, though Last Jedi director Rian Johnson recently assured fans that the actress was "happily living her life" after cutting out the social media "distraction."
I will say she’s happily living her life in grand Kelly style, I’m glad she’s cut this distraction out of it. I’m bummed we all lose out on her IG posts, she was awesome on it. ❤️
Last fall, Ridley opened up to Vogueabout how the stress of Star Wars fame had a physical effect on her.
"People were recognizing me. I still don’t know how to handle it. My skin got really bad because I was stressed," she shared. "It was crippling. I just felt so seen and so self-conscious."
Ridley recalled an especially stressful incident when two fans showed up to see her unannounced. "I heard a knock on the door. These two guys went, ‘Hey, Daisy, can I get an autograph?’ and I literally went, ‘No f**kin’ way,'" she recalls. "My mum said to me, ‘Everyone’s trying to take ownership of you.'"