It was nothing but love for Jar Jar Binks!
Fans in the audience at Star Wars Celebration Chicago gave a massive standing ovation and chanted Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best’s name as he took the stage to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menaceon Monday morning.
“You guys are going to make me tear up, and I’m an unattractive crier,” Best told the crowd.
This marks Best’s first Star Wars-related appearance since revealing he contemplated suicide after receiving major backlash from media and fans for his portrayal of Jar Jar in the prequel trilogy.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N — Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
"20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today," Best wrote in a social media post in July 2018. "This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival."
Later in the panel, Star Wars creator and Phantom Menace director George Lucas sent a video message to fans in attendance, praising Best and his performance.
“Thank you for coming to the Celebration. It’s one of my favorite movies and, of course, Jar Jar is my favorite character. Ahmed, he did a fantastic job. It was very very hard,” Lucas said in the video. “The fans are always such a big part of these films and, obviously, those of you who are here are the fans of Episode I and I love each and every one of you.”
Best was joined on the panel by Episode I actors Ray Park (Darth Maul), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0) and Ian McDiarmid (Sheev Palpatine).
On Friday, McDiarmid surprised the audience at the Episode IX panel after it was revealed in the trailer that Palpatine will return after being thrown over a ledge and presumably killed in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
“I just happened to be in the area, so I thought I should just drop in for a laugh,” said McDiarmid, who later teased, “I made the assumption that we’d never ever see [Palpatine] again and I guess that’s how it’ll remain.”
We’ll just have to wait and see when Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in December 2019.
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