Once described as the "key to all of this" by none other than Star Wars mastermind George Lucas himself, Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) instead became a symbol of everything wrong in The Phantom Menace, and the prequels as a whole. After decades' worth of debate regarding Binks' worth (or lack thereof) to the ongoing space opera, the actor behind the notorious character has finally spoken up, and he's not too happy about how his performance has been ignored.
Ahmed Best Talks About The Jar Jar Binks Legacy
As much as his character may have been hated, Ahmed Best believes that Binks was a groundbreaking first step in the field of motion capture technology that's become prevalent in films today, and he doesn't like being overshadowed by fellow mocap actor Andy Serkis - an actor for whom he has nothing but respect.
The retweet in question was focused on the erasure of Best's work in Wired's 'History of Motion Capture' video, which was narrated by Andy Serkis.
Serkis made a name for himself with motion-captured characters such as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and Caesar in the prequel Planet of the Apes trilogy, and he's considered to be the godfather of mocap for his iconic work. But #JarJarBinks, who was also a mocap character, came out before either Gollum or Caesar, and Best's #StarWars role is remembered for being annoying rather than for being one of the first digitally created characters on screen.
In a series of tweets, Best gave an in-depth defense of Jar Jar Binks not just as a character but as a special effect that was brought to life by countless digital artists. If not for his pioneering work, Best believes that motion-captured characters would not be as refined and well-received as they are today:
"Thanks for the love today especially the 'Star Wars' fans. Jar Jar [Binks] is bigger than just me or my performance. As much as we actors are on the front line when it comes to the success or the failure of characters we play, what’s more important is the accomplishment of bringing the work to the screen. Jar Jar helped create the workflow, iteration process and litmus test for all CGI characters to this day on some days the code was being written in real time as I was moving."
Jar Jar Binks may not have been a fan-favorite nor was he even liked to begin with, but Best has a point in saying that the noisy Gungan was a much-needed first step in the use of motion-capture technology:
"To deny Jar Jar’s place in film history is to deny the hundreds of VFX technicians, animators, code writers and producers their respect. People like John Knoll, Rob Coleman and scores of others who I worked with for two years after principal photography was ended to bring these movies to you. There’s a joke I like to use when talking about this stuff, Jar Jar walked so Gollum could run. Gollum ran so the Na’vi could fly. Thanks for lifting me up today."
Believe it or not, Best has been playing Jar Jar Binks ever since the Star Wars prequels ended back in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith. The actor's love and respect for an otherwise hated role is admirable, and he's voiced Jar Jar in countless video games, TV shows and even Robot Chicken's stop-motion mockery of the epic space opera.
Jar Jar Binks does have a list of faults that are detrimental to the prequel trilogy's overall quality, but from a technical perspective, he and Best helped lay the groundwork for technology that is taken for granted today. By acting like Jar Jar never graced the big screen with his annoying dialogue and failure at comedic timing, audiences and cinematic historians accidentally risk forgetting the awkward but necessary steps that the special effects industry needed to take before becoming the powerhouse it is today.
What did you think of Ahmed Best's opinion regarding Jar Jar Binks? Do you agree with him or not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.