Gungan Nature: Michael Jackson apparently wanted to play Jar Jar Binks in the Phantom Menace

A while back there was a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread with Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels. Among all the usual questions about playing one of the more hated film characters in recent movie history, one user casually asked how he got the role and if there was any competition for it. Best responded, rather casually: “I auditioned. Michael Jackson really wanted to do it but George picked me. Marinate on that one. I still am.”

Wait, say what?

In an interview posted today about the legacy of Jar Jar Binks, VICE asked Best to elaborate on that little tidbit, and the actor goes into further detail about the King of Pop’s alleged interest in the role. The story even involves Natalie Portman attending a Michael Jackson concert, which we imagine is the most fun thing ever.

The full interview is a pretty good read, taking us back to 1999, the crazy days of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and all the backlash that surrounded the controversial Gungan. But below is the part that centers around Jacko:

In a Reddit interview, you mentioned that Michael Jackson originally wanted to play the role of Jar Jar Binks. Was that a joke?

That’s what George told me. 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. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that.


Guess we’ll never watch this video in the same light ever again…