The man who brought Jar Jar Binks to life on the set of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy has been chatting about where he thinks the franchise might have been straying from the path in recent years, addressing what he considers to be “missing” from the newer Lucasfilm endeavors – and, no, it’s not Jar Jar Binks.
Ahmed Best was in conversation with writer Jamie Stangroom about his latest return to the Star Wars universe when he aired his personal views on the situation. The actor will be the host of the upcoming Disney+ game show Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, due to start streaming later this year.
“This is the thing I think Star Wars is falling short of now: there really isn’t very much to believe in anymore,” he mused. “The lack of faith in the mythology is really the thing I find to be missing. We don’t talk about The Force anymore in the Star Wars movies.”
He added, “We’re really about lineage and legacy and line and technology. But the thing that made Star Wars work was The Force. There were two sides: the light side, and the dark side. But we all believed in The Force – that’s what worked in the Lucasverse when it came to Star Wars.”
The Force has certainly played a role in the latest Star Wars trilogy, featuring in J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, and in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, but perhaps Best would prefer an increased level of conversation around it on-screen, and he says that Jedi Temple Challenge will steer the themes of Star Wars back to The Force.
“So with Jedi Temple Challenge, it brings back this idea that we all have levels of connection to the Force, and you can actually grow your connection to the Force and it can become stronger through these trials at this temple,” he explained. “All of those things that Yoda did with Luke Skywalker at Dagobah in the swamp, this is where it was done first. It was in this temple. You got to get good here. I dig that. It’s something I think would be wonderful for kids. Because now there’s a path to this thing…Now there are actual steps you can take to being a strong Jedi. It gives you belief and faith.”
Best was originally cast as Naboo-dwelling Gungun Jar Jar Binks in 1997 after Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace casting director Robin Gurland saw him perform in Stomp. Initially appearing as the interpreter of a Goofy-esque CG personality imagined by director Lucas, Best faced a significant backlash after older audiences responded negatively to Jar Jar’s comic relief hi-jinx, and the character had a significantly-reduced part to play over the next two films in the prequel trilogy.
The actor has discussed the fallout from his appearance in the films as a very painful period in his life. Later, he would reprise the role of Jar Jar Binks during a Star Wars-themed instalments of Robot Chicken, and in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.