Ever Wonder What Happened To Jar Jar Binks? [VIDEOS]
With "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" unable to capture the #1 spot at the box office this weekend (coming in at #4), its obvious this film has not held up well. When it was originally released in 1999, Lucas intended the film to entertain the older fans, but appeal to the younger audience that hadn't been exposed to Star Wars yet. In that, Lucas was successful. Most of the people that defended the new trilogy where younger fans to whom this was their introduction to the series. 13 years later, many of those supporters have relented and admitted the new movies were disappointing. One of the most disappointing parts of the film, and something Lucas thought would be a hit with children, was the character Jar Jar Binks.
The CGI character played by Ahmet Best was supposed to be the goofy comic relief, but ended up being the most annoying and hated character in the Star Wars universe. In response to the negative reaction to the character, George Lucas made Jar Jar indirectly responsible for the creation of the evil Galactic Empire in "Attack of the Clones", and reduced the character to one line in "Revenge of the Sith". In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ahmed Best admitted to mixed emotions in the reduction of his character. When asked if he was upset, Best said,
“As an actor, yes. But as someone who understands film and as a filmmaker? No. George [Lucas] has to make his movie. And I’m happy to be whatever in any of it. And at the end of the day, it’s the story that matters, and if the character doesn’t fit into the story, there is nothing I can do. What ends up on the screen is what he says ends up on the screen. All I want to do is be able to facilitate his vision as best I can. That’s all I can do. I wanted to be in those movies more because I wanted to give him more. I felt like I could do a good job. And I did. I did the best job I could do.”
But the original intention for the character wasn't a complete brush off in "Revenge of the Sith." According to Best, George Lucas had scripted, and later deleted, a scene that would have wrapped up Jar Jar's story arc over the three films,
“In Revenge of the Sith, there was a scene that was cut where I’m walking down a long pathway with Ian McDiarmid before he is turned into the Emperor. And Palpatine kind of thanks Jar Jar for putting him in power. It’s a really interesting scene, and it shows the evolution of Jar Jar from this fun-loving kid’s character into this manipulated politician. And it was an interesting arc for the character that I thought could have been explored, because the scene is really dark. But it just didn’t fit in the movie, which I understand. But yeah, George’s take on it is Jar Jar is now just a politician.”
Best has done a good job taking the negative option of Jar Jar in stride, reprising the role in various self-depricating skits on "Robot Chicken". But Jar Jar's story didn't actually end with "Revenge of the Sith." When the original trilogy was first released on DVD around the time "Revenge of the Sith" hit theaters, Lucas once again altered the end of "Return of the Jedi", this time including a shot of the people of Naboo among the various worlds celebrating, and Jar Jar can be heard yelling "Weesa Free!"