Sometimes we forget how movie stars are actually real people with feelings and emotions, and that defining them by one role–especially one that was supposed to be their career-launching moment–can sometimes send actors into a tailspin. Such is the case with Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the late ’90s Star Wars series.
Best posted to his Twitter page a picture of himself and his son overlooking New York Harbor and tweeted “20 years next I year a faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This is 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.”
You probably don’t have to be a huge Star Wars fan to know how hated Jar Jar Binks is by the Star Wars community, black fans in particular. Many accused George Lucas of engaging in minstrelsy with Binks’ halted, affected English and his buffoonish nature. The backlash affected Best hard, which he relayed in his 2017 interview with Wired (as reported by Page Six).
“There were a lot of tears; there was a lot of pain; there was a lot of s–t to deal with,” he said, adding that everyone else was able to find work afterward except for him. “To be honest, failing and being black is very scary, because we don’t get a lot of chances, you know? I didn’t get another chance after Jar Jar.”
It’s easy to pile on Best for his role, but I think we forget how this role, if it went over well, was meant to be Best’s big break on the scene, and how those deferred promises, plus the backlash, can send someone into a spiral. Best has done unnecessary time in the Star Wars doghouse; instead of keeping him in purgatory, we should start hoping he can get roles in Hollywood that actually showcase his true talent.
As Best shows, suicide is preventable, and you can go on to live a fulfilling life after the storm has passed. If you are facing mental battles and feel you need to talk to someone, please reach out to someone you trust. One option is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with the lifeline online. Your Life Counts also provides a list of coping skills and how to create a plan to keep yourself safe. If you’re someone who is worried about a loved one, you can also visit the lifeline online to learn more about warning signs and risk factors.