He was told he 'destroyed' 'Star Wars fans' childhoods. Now he's a hero of 'The Mandalorian'
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Warning: This article contains spoilers from Season Three of "The Mandalorian."
Ahmed Best, known for playing Jar Jar Binks in "Star Wars," has made the comeback of a lifetime on "The Mandalorian."
In Season Three of the hit Disney + series, it was revealed that Best was the actor who played Kelleran Beq, the mysterious Jedi who saved Grogu, often referred to as Baby Yoda, during a devastating attack on the Jedi Temple.
“As soon as I put the robes on for my first costume test, and I walked on to get approval from (executive producers) Jon and Dave, and they handed me a lightsaber, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m in this,’” he told StarWars.com in an interview published March 24. “And boom, Kelleran Beq came alive.”
Although his actions in the series are being hailed by fans online, Best told the outlet that it's been a long time coming.
Over the years, Best has been open about the racist backlash and criticism he received when he portrayed and voiced the character of Jar Jar Binks. In 2017, Best told Wired that he received death threats because of the role.
"I had people come to me and say, ‘You destroyed my childhood,'" he told the outlet. "That’s difficult for a 25-year-old to hear.”
In 2019, around the 20th anniversary of “The Phantom Menace," Best opened up on Twitter and in a video interview about struggling with depression and considering suicide because of the backlash.
At Star Wars Celebration Chicago April 15, 2019 — his first public appearance since he spoke out — Best received a standing ovation from the audience, according to "Entertainment Tonight."
Years after starring in the franchise, when executive producer Jon Favreau asked him to return and join the cast of "The Mandalorian," Best said he "had to think about it."
"I’ve been in the 'Star Wars' world for such a long time and my story is such a rollercoaster ride of emotions. So coming back to 'Star Wars' wasn’t an easy decision for me. It wasn’t something I could have immediately said yes to. I did have to marinate over it for a bit,” he explained to StarWars.com.
But at the end of the day, Best said it was the executive producers that made him shake off his nerves and return to the franchise.
"It was really Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, and being with them, that made me want to come back," he said.
After he was unveiled as Kelleran Beq on "The Mandalorian," fans took to social media to say how much they appreciate Best.
One person said that they love that Best has returned to the franchise.
"He deserves this," they wrote on Twitter.
This dude got so much worldwide hate back in 1999 when Phantom Menace came out for playing Jar Jar Binks that he almost committed suicide. I’m so glad to see him come back to Star Wars as a Jedi this week. He deserves this! Thank you Ahmed Best! ✊🏾✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/nEWeAuntFH
— Kiri-J (@GlidingBlueJayy) March 22, 2023
Another said they couldn't get enough of his performance in “The Mandalorian."
"So happy for him," the fan commented.
Ahmed Best deserves all the things. So happy for him, I hope he is seing all the positivity and love we feel for him. He is amazing as Kelleran Beq and I loved every second he was on screen. https://t.co/XYDVcG9m3c
— Eliza Kenobi 🦋🥐 (@ElizaKenobi) March 25, 2023
Another Twitter user called out those referring to Best's return as a "redemption," instead saying the "fanbase who bullied him" should seek his forgiveness.
"He doesn't have to redeem himself," they wrote. "His cameo is NOT HIS REDEMPTION. The only redemption that needs to be made is from the Star Wars fanbase who bullied him."
Ahmed Best’s cameo was absolutely brilliant and I’m so glad he had the chance but let me make one thing clear here:
HE doesn’t have to redeem himself. His cameo is NOT HIS REDEMPTION.
The only redemption that needs to be made is from the Star Wars fanbase who bullied him.
— Captain Rhi Skywalker 🦉🔞 | She/Her (@finnisajedi) March 25, 2023
This article was originally published on TODAY.com