The Mandalorian season 3 episode 4 marked a pivotal moment in Star Wars history. Not only did it provide us with some much-needed answers on Baby Yoda — namely, how exactly he was able to escape the Jedi Temple during Order 66 — but it also amounted to a transformative, full-circle moment for Star Wars cast member Ahmed Best.
Best first joined the Star Wars world back in the ’90s as the original voice and motion-capture actor for Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks. This broke new ground in terms of CGI, with new software having to be developed in order to capture Best speaking and interacting with other cast members as Jar Jar.
But upon The Phantom Menace’s 1999 release, it soon became apparent that Jar Jar was a widely unpopular character, with vitriol towards Best only increasing as more prequel trilogy movies were released. Even now, The Phantom Menace isn’t high on anyone’s priorities when watching the Star Wars movies in order.
In an interview with The Guardian, Best recounted how the widespread hate campaign quickly extended to him receiving death threats, his phone number being leaked, and even considering suicide. “It was terrible,” he said. “It was the lowest I’ve been in my life.”
20 years on from his first appearance in The Phantom Menace, Best was given a standing ovation by fans at Star Wars Celebration 2019 and was cast as in-universe Jedi Kelleran Beq the following year to host the Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge game show.
These were the first few steps in a long-overdue wave of appreciation for Best’s contribution to the Star Wars universe, but his “redemption,” as it has come to be known, was truly cemented in March 2023. This was when flashback scenes in The Mandalorian revealed that Beq heroically saved fan-favorite Grogu from annihilation, making both the Jedi and Best an even more integral part of the Star Wars canon.
“It really felt good,” Best explained. “As an artist, I lost my confidence for so many years, but The Mandalorian gave me that affirmation of ‘You were always doing the right thing … It wasn’t you.'”
Best’s rollercoaster relationship with the Star Wars franchise and fandom is at the center of a new podcast entitled ‘The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks,’ but when it comes to the idea of “redemption,” Best told The Guardian that he has a very specific vision in mind.
“I don’t feel like Jar Jar – or I – need redemption. I’m looking at it as our redemption, as the people who love Star Wars,” he said. The truth is, Best couldn’t be more right about this. As we explain in our op-ed, the people who should be seeking redemption are the ones who made his life a misery in the first place.
You can also catch up on everything announced at Star Wars Celebration 2023, including the new Star Wars movies, the Andor season 2 release date, The Acolyte release date, the Skeleton Crew release date and the Ahsoka release date. Or, get back to the basics with our guide to all the Star Wars movies ranked.