Following fan backlash against Jar Jar Binks, the actor rejoins the Star Wars franchise after a nearly 20-year absence.
A former Star Wars actor paid the Mandalorian a surprise visit on Wednesday’s episode. About 20 years after his final appearance in the Star Wars world, Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2005, made a guest appearance in the Disney+ series.
However, Best chose not to reprise his divisive role as the awkward, well-intentioned Gungan misfit known to Star Wars fans as Jar Jar Binks. Instead, in the episode “Chapter 20: The Foundling,” Best took on the role of a Jedi named Kelleran Beq.
As clone soldiers betrayed Beq and embarked on a murderous rampage in Order 66, Best appeared in the episode.
However, Beq managed to get away into hyperspace and save a young Grogu, opening the door for a potential comeback to the show.
Best faced intense backlash when he played Binks in the early aughts, so much so that he previously said he would never return to the franchise. “No, I think I’ve done my damage,” Best told EW in 2016. “Yeah. I’m good with where I stand in the Star Wars universe. I don’t need to do that.… I’m not really interested in coming back. I did what I did, I thought it was great, I thought it was fun, and now it’s time to move on.”
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The abuse from fans regarding his portrayal of Jar Jar Binks was so intense that it landed the actor in a deep depression. “It hit me. It came right for me. I was called every racial stereotype you can imagine.… It was debilitating. I didn’t know how to respond,” said Best in a 2019 interview. “The depression hit me. Hard. I was just broken.”
But fans seemed to welcome Best back into the fold after his brief appearance in The Mandalorian. “Ahmed Best was bullied by toxic fanboys to the point of contemplating suicide for his portrayal of Jar Jar Binks,” read one tweet. “Twenty years later and he’s now the Jedi Knight who saves Grogu from Order 66. You love to see it.”
Best seems to be grateful for returning to the Star Wars cinematic universe. “Gratitude! Good to be back,” he wrote on Instagram. “There is so much to say and share. It’s going to take a couple of days. But, for now, I’ll just say thank you to all that have held me up and made me better.”
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Emma is a Master of Science candidate at the California Institute of Technology. Since approximately four years ago, she has been a freelance writer, producing content for newspapers, magazines, blogs, and the internet