Justice for Jar Jar actor in The Mandalorian Season 3

Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks and Kelleran Beq in Star WarsLucasfilm

Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best popped up in today’s episode of The Mandalorian, playing a Jedi Master who is the polar opposite of his much-maligned prequels character.

Chapter 20 of The Mandalorian featured a flashback to Coruscant when Order 66 was being enacted.

During that sequence, a face that will be familiar to longtime fans of Star Wars appeared, playing a kick-ass Jedi who wields a pair of lightsabers.

That actor has recently hosted Star Wars gameshow Jedi Temple Challenge. But before then he was infamous for playing one of the least popular characters in Star Wars history…

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How playing Jar Jar Binks affected Ahmed Best

Ahmed Best was cast as Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace, and the backlash was immediate. His computer-generated character was designed to be the film’s comic relief, but critics and fans alike quickly tired of the Gungan’s clumsy antics.

Seemingly in response to that criticism, the character’s involvement in the movies was scaled back in sequel Attack of the Clones, with Jar Jar then having barely any dialogue in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

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“I faced a media backlash that really made me feel like my life was over,” Best said of that period in a 2019 video interview. “There was just so much hate and anger and venom directed at me, and I took it personally… I put a lot of me into that work, and if you talk to any artist who really cares about their work, you’re talking about them.”

Best says claims that Binks was a racial stereotype also stung, with the actor stating: “The hardest part for me in that entire situation was all of the criticism that came from a racially motivated point of view. Growing up, being black, and wanting to be an artist, which is a very challenging and brave thing to do, it’s not easy. We’re always faced, as black artists, with this idea of being a sellout. We have our guard up when it comes to being portrayed as an Uncle Tom, a racist stereotype, or anything that makes you, as a black person, look less than.

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“It hit me. It came right for me. I was called every racial stereotype you can imagine. There was this criticism of being this Jamaican, broken dialect, which was offensive because I’m of West Indian descent — I’m not Jamaican. It was debilitating. I didn’t know how to respond.”

Ahmed Best makes Star Wars return as Jedi Master Kelleran Beq

Ahmed Best as Kelleran Beq in The Phantom Menace.Disney/Lucasfilm

Ahmed Best might have been done with Star Wars after all that. But he returned to the fold in 2020 to play a Jedi Master called Kelleran Beq in the Jedi Temple gameshow.

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That character then made a surprise appearance in today’s episode of The Mandalorian, kicking trooper ass with dual lightsabers as he rescues Grogu during the Order 66 assassinations. Then flies him to safety by jumping into hyperspace.

Of first landing the role, Best previously told StarWars.com: “I never thought that I would be asked back, to be honest. I was very pleasantly surprised. What really made me say yes was the fact that this was breaking new ground in the Star Wars universe.”

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And of maybe righting the wrongs of the past, Best added: “I think what’s the most important about the representation of someone like Kelleran Beq as far as being a person of color and the leader of this Temple – kind of like the Dean of Jedi – is it breaks down what’s possible. It breaks down what you can do, and creates just a brand new world of possibilities out there.”

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episodes 1-4 are available to stream now. Check out our other coverage here, while you can learn more about Kelleran Beq here.

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