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Star Wars actor Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in Phantom Menace, will take on a different role in The Mandalorian… despite swearing off franchise

Jar Jar Binks from 1999’s The Phantom Menace was one of the most reviled characters in Star Wars history.

But the actor who played him, 49-year-old Ahmed Best, is returning to the franchise.

On Wednesday it was revealed he has been cast in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian but in a completely different role from Jar Jar.

In Chapter 20: The Foundling, Best plays Jedi Kelleran Beq during a Grogru flashback to Order 66. 

And this isn’t the first time Best has played Beq, either – nor is it the only Beq he’s played.

The actor plated Kelleran in the online children’s game show called Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge in 2020 and had a cameo in 2002’s Attack of the Clones as Achk Med-Beq.

Best is back despite saying several years ago on an episode of These Are The Actors You’re Looking For that that nothing could make him return.

‘I think I’ve done my damage. I’m good with where I stand in the Star Wars universe,’ he revealed.

‘I’d say no. I think I did what I did, I thought it was great, it was fun, but now it’s time to move on.’

He said he was very surprised initially by all the hatred directed at the clumsy Gungan when he was unveiled as part of the Star Wars universe back in 1999, and that he couldn’t help but take it personally.

‘Even though you play characters, you put a lot of your own personality into it, you get emotionally and personally invested in the work that you do, it’s your work and you take pride in it,’ he said. ‘So when your work is criticized negatively, you feel a hit.’

He suggested that amidst all the vitriol, Jar Jar was denied credit for being a pioneer for more popular CGI characters who came after him.

‘It didn’t’ put me off Star Wars but yeah it was painful. I mean, this character for me and one of the biggest reasons I took was because of the challenge of it – there was no Andy Serkis and Gollum, Navi from Avatar.

‘I was to be the template for this, so I was kinda working with George to pioneer this new character form of acting and storytelling. On set we were all just so focused not the challenge of it and having so much fun that the post Star Wars stuff was a surprise.’

Never say never: Best is back despite saying several years ago on an episode of These Are The Actors You're Looking For that that nothing could lure him back

Never say never: Best is back despite saying several years ago on an episode of These Are The Actors You’re Looking For that that nothing could lure him back

In fact, the Jar Jar Binks backlash was so bad for the New York born actor that he contemplated suicide after portraying the goofy Gungan.

’20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,’ the Stomp alum wrote in 2018.

‘This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about.’

Best thought he’d found the role of a lifetime when George Lucas cast him as as the Naboo military commander and politician, but he wound up receiving ‘death threats.’ 

New chapter: In fact, the Jar Jar Binks backlash was so bad for the New York born actor that he contemplated suicide after portraying the goofy Gungan but fatherhood to son Marley got him back on track

New chapter: In fact, the Jar Jar Binks backlash was so bad for the New York born actor that he contemplated suicide after portraying the goofy Gungan but fatherhood to son Marley got him back on track

Widely considered one of the most irritating and hated characters of the Star Wars franchise, critics compared Jar Jar Binks to a blackface minstrel or ‘Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit.’ 

Fans saw the slug-eyed orange creature’s role shrink from prominent in Episode I – The Phantom Menace to just a one-line cameo in Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

Best credited fatherhood with lifting his spirits after the career woes. He has a son, Marley.

‘I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival,’ Best said. 

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