Michael Jackson Almost Played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars Prequels

Friday, 24 July 2015 - 10:13AM
Star Wars
Friday, 24 July 2015 - 10:13AM
Michael Jackson Almost Played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars Prequels
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Jar Jar Binks is unquestionably the most hated character in the Star Wars universe, and widely considered to be the most annoying character of all time. Between the unbelievably irritating voice and speech pattern, the terrible CGI, the clunky jokes, and the possible racism, even the most devoted Star Wars fans had trouble finding redeeming qualities in Jar Jar. But according to Ahmed Best, the actor who brought Jar Jar to life, the character might have been very different, as he told Vice that the King of Pop himself was up for the role:

Opening quote
That's what George told me. 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... 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.
Closing quote


This is a fun fact for Star Wars fans, but it probably wouldn't have changed too much. Using real effects rather than CGI would have been good advice for George Lucas all around, but there were so many problems with the depiction of the character, it likely would not have saved the character if Michael Jackson had played him. It would been a novelty, which seems to be what Lucas was afraid of, but Jar Jar still would have been annoying and painfully unfunny based on the writing and direction alone.

There have also been pervasive allegations that the character is a racist caricature and stereotypes Rastafarian culture, but Best vehemently denies this:

Opening quote
It just further underscores the ignorance and the blind unrealness of dealing with racism in this country. The lack of education and the lack of exposure to what actually is racist to non-black folks is abysmal. For anyone to say that is offensive because it shows the ignorance of not knowing what a Rastafarian is and not having proper education and knowledge of what minstrelsy was in the time of vaudeville, Butterfly McQueen, and Stepen Fetchit. They really don't know what those roles were and why those roles were.
Closing quote


I'm not entirely sure that it's pertinent whether the reviewers understand Rastafarian culture, because they still could have been picking up on Lucas's similar ignorance and perpetuation of stereotypes. But it's a complex issue, and Best went on to call out the racism in Hollywood in general, which is pretty inarguable:

Opening quote
I think that ignorance and that lack of education that's pervasive in this country... allows what goes on in modern filmmaking as far as [limited] roles for black people-black people have experiences other than the jail- and gang-related [stories] being shown in movies today. They don't believe that black actors, specifically black American actors, have enough depth to try these other roles and it has turned into the outsourcing of an incredible amount of American talent. The top black actors in the world right now are both British [presumably Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, and/or Idris Elba]. And they're the only ones being allowed to play these roles that have a lot more depth and gravitas.
Closing quote


Best also joked around with Vice about his recent Instagram post that revealed the first script for Attack of the Clones was called "Jar Jar's Big Adventure":

#TBT the first draft of my #starwars ep. 2 script. And yes that was the original title of #attackoftheclones

A photo posted by Ahmed Best (@bestahmed) on



Opening quote
That was the first script that we all got when we go to Sydney. It was [George's] joke because he knew it going to leak to the press. That was George's kind of middle finger to the whole, "everybody hates Jar Jar" thing.
Closing quote


And finally, he set Star Wars' fans minds at ease by assuring them that Jar Jar will definitely not appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
Opening quote
No, I'm good. I had my experience, I did my thing. Now, it's for a brand new generation. It's for John Boyega. I'm done with it. I've really resolved myself to being done. I'm OK with that.
Closing quote
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