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18th of July 2018

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Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best opens up about the real effects of intense backlash

Ahmed Best opened up about a "media backlash" 20 years ago that had him contemplating suicide.Ahmed Best opened up about a "media backlash" 20 years ago that had him contemplating suicide.Image: Marion Curtis/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images2017%2f09%2f01%2fdc%2f1bw.3febfBy Shannon Connellan2018-07-04 04:57:08 UTC

Sometimes people don't realise that hating on a fictional character can have repercussions, particularly on the real human being playing the part.

Reminding us of this is actor Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars franchise, and who opened up about his experience with intense backlash on Tuesday.

Binks, the friendly Gungan, made his debut in 1999's Episode 1, The Phantom Menace, with a smaller role in Attack of the Clones, and a brief cameo in Revenge of the Sith.

But although some adored Jar Jar, the character was quickly swept up in wave of audience and media criticism, eventually becoming one of the most railed-on characters in Star Wars history.

Although it might seem offhand to hate on a fictional character from afar, it really took a toll on Best. On Tuesday, the actor took to Twitter to open up about his experience, posting a photo with his young son. 

Best writes that he contemplated suicide following "media backlash" he suffered almost 20 years ago — Best first played Binks in 1999.

"20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today," he wrote. "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."

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

The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson replied to Best, sending love and and writing, "I think there are many of us who'd get quite alot from hearing your story."

Lots of love to you Ahmed. I think there are many of us who’d get quite alot from hearing your story.

— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) July 3, 2018

Star Wars legend Frank Oz, who played Jedi master Yoda, also responded to Best saying he loved Jar Jar Binks — acknowledging the popular, harsh response to the character.

"I know I'll get raked over the coals for saying that but I just will never understand the harshness of people's dislike of him."

I LOVED Jar Jar Binks. I know I’ll get raked over the coals for saying that but I just will never understand the harshness of people’s dislike of him. I do character work. He is a GREAT character! Okay. Go ahead. Shoot. Gimme all ya got—but you’ll never make me change my mind. https://t.co/RHhhXUlU5C

— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) July 4, 2018

And Johnson and Oz weren't the only ones, with many on Twitter offering their support to the actor, some praising Jar Jar as their favourite Star Wars character.

I’m impossibly glad you’re still here.

— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) July 3, 2018

Jar Jar is, hands down, one of my favorite characters. That the actor who portrayed him faced enough backlash to make this an option because of toxic fandoms and press is angering to me. We in Star Wars need to be better and kinder to each other, even if we don't like a thing. https://t.co/7oJIEyN5G1

— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) July 3, 2018

Keep this kind of honesty in mind when you're thinking about piling on people in entertainment.

When people make things you don't like, they're not trying to hurt you. Choices are made, and sometimes they don't work for you, but they're not trying to injure you. https://t.co/DR0ZlX6onX

— BryanEdwardHill (@bryanedwardhill) July 3, 2018

I loved Jar Jar, he was one of my fav creature in the Star wars filmI don't know why people picked on you, causing backlashes on a character that is 20 years old.

People who picked on you are the lowest form of life on Earth.

— Zaxtor (@Zaxtor2001) July 4, 2018

I never knew it got so bad for you. I'm so sorry. For what it's worth, I was 17 when the movie premiered and I was psyched for your portrayal because I saw your photo in a magazine where you were out in the desert being a creative badass. I've always loved Jar Jar.

— Tess Fowler (@TessFowler) July 3, 2018

For the record: I always loved Jar Jar, I am not ashamed to love Jar Jar. I have a doll, a t-shirt, an action figure, even a towel. And no I was not a kid when TPM came out either. Some of us enjoyed his free spirit & courage. I wish more of us had known to speak up. https://t.co/4ercmNumWN

— Rebel Je'Daii (@SWForce4EU) July 4, 2018

This post from Star Wars actor Ahmed Best breaks my heart. As fans, it’s important to remember that our words/actions do have an impact. I’m so glad you are still with us, @ahmedbest! https://t.co/ep32Uxl5m3

— Ashley Marie Pauls (@jediash1) July 4, 2018

Although people might not have realised, myself included, making fun of a character isn't as innocent as it seems, if there's a real person who's genuinely affected by it. 

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the

Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.

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