Guess Which Pop Star Asked George Lucas If He Could Play Jar Jar Binks?
Once you’ve mastered the high art of moonwalking, where do you go from there? Naboo, apparently. That’s according to the actor who played Naboo denizen Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel movies. Ahmed Best, the man behind the most reviled character in the entire Star Wars universe claims that before he was cast, another man asked George Lucas for the role: Michael Jackson.
According to Best, Jackson asked Lucas if he could play Jar Jar—not just voice and motion capture the CGI character as Best did, but actually appear on camera in full costume and (a lot of) makeup à la his 1983 ‘Thriller’ performance.
“That’s what George told me,” Best told Vice in a recent interview. “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. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. 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.”
Because you can’t do super annoying stuff like this without CGI, right?
“My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think [Lucas] wanted that,” added the actor.
Best says that during shooting, no one involved in the first prequel movie had a clue that Jar Jar would be so widely disliked by fans. (Simon Pegg’s Spaced character nailed it when he said that Jar Jar “makes the Ewoks look like f*$#ing Shaft!”) And yet despite the hate, he has no regrets about landing the part instead of MJ. “At the end of the day, it is the movie business, and if the character doesn’t work for the people who watch the movie then the character doesn’t work. I can’t take that personally.”