Ahmed Best is not a household name, but trust us when we say that you’d recognize his voice if you heard it.
Best played Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and he’s acutely aware that his character is not too well-received, especially by big Star Wars fans.
However, he’s learned not to take it personally (“It is the movie business”), partially because he has benefited from at least a couple perks from the gig. Namely, he got to meet Michael Jackson.
As he told Vice, it was a surreal experience.
“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,” he remembered. “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?'”
As it turned out, Jackson was already acquainted with the role of Jar Jar. After the concert and Jackson left, the group went to an afterparty. Best asked Lucas why he introduced him as Jar Jar, and his response was a huge surprise.
“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,” Best said. “My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that.”
Alyssa Pereira is a music writer, web producer, and pop culture blogger for CBS stations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Find her on Twitter at Alyssa Pereira