His initials are JJB and he is the most hated characters in all the Star Wars movies. Yet, Michael Jackson wanted to play him.
No, it's not Jabba the Hutt. Like Jabba this character is green also, just taller and speaks funnier. Though he may be reviled, there honestly would be no Lord of the Rings movies without this character paving the way. Andy Sirkis, the King of Motion Capture owes this character his career.
The answer is Jar Jar Binks.
Jar Jar was the first fully realized CGI character.
Ahmed Best, a dancer and visual performer, got the job because he could best fully express what Lucas wanted to do with the newly developed motion capture technique. Lucas waned Jar Jar to move with an awkward physical grace. Lucas was thinking of a combination of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
Binks was to provide the comic relief, the same side function that the droids R2D2 and CP30 did in the original Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately, in this one case, what Lucas found funny (ponder the idea of Lucas trying to be the next Woody Allen) audiences and critics found annoying, too goofy and a bit of a racial stereotype, especially in the way Jar Jar spoke with this herky-jerky Jamaican inspired patois.
Michael Jackson clearly never thought of this while he was campaigning George Lucas for the role.
Ahmed relayed the incident in a Vice interview.
"That's what George told me," he said. "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."
What kept Lucas from casting the King of Pop as Jar jar? Best has an interesting theory.
"My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don't think [Lucas] wanted that."
Nothing can be bigger than Star Wars.
Unfortunately there was a sad side effect to all the Jar Jar hatred. It promoted a certain troll like behavior to Jake Lloyd, who portrayed the young Anakin, the Darth Vader to be.
Best relayed the outcome in the Vice interview.
“It’s a very American thing to take somebody down when they’re at the top and a lot if it had to with that; people really wanted to see George crash and burn. Unfortunately, this character was so new, so experimental; he became a lightning rod for all that. It was me, and it was [original Anakin Skywalker] Jake Lloyd who took a lot of the heat for the movie. Fortunately, I was in my 20s. I wasn’t eight years-old like Jake, who I think took it worse. Jake had it far worse than me. I’m a 20-year-old from from the Bronx; I’ve seen and I’ve done things that were a lot harder than criticism in that newspaper. Although it hurt me emotionally and it was hard to take at the time, it wasn’t debilitating for me. I just put my shoes on and went back to work. But Jake had a difficult time.”
That could explain Lloyd's falling away from the Hollywood spotlight and his recent legal troubles. It is hard to be a normal human being when people see you as the reason for ruining something the world loves.
Lucas did get one final dig in for all the Jar Jar hate and Star Wars Episode One derision.
Here is the cover sheet for the screenplay that has the working title for what became Episode 2: Attack of the Clones.