The actor who played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars franchise has spoken of how he considered taking his own life after the backlash to his character.
Ahmed Best wrote a moving post on Twitter where he said it was approaching 20 years since he faced resentment which "still affects my career today". He did not name the franchise, but Phantom Menace, which was Best's first major film role, was released in 1999.
Sharing a photo of him and his son looking out at a stretch of water, he tweeted: "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 lift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme [sic] know."
Phantom Menace was mostly panned by critics who took aim at its childish humour, and particularly the character of Jar Jar Binks, whom fans used as a symbol for everything wrong with the franchise. Others suggested that the character, created by George Lucas, was almost a racial caricature. Best played the role between 1999-2005.
Best has spoken about the hateful comments he received over the character in the past. In a 2017 interview he told Wired: "I had death threats through the internet. I had people come to me and say, 'You destroyed my childhood'. That's difficult for a 25-year-old to hear."
His tweet received a huge amount of support and compassion, with The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson actor writing: "Lots of love to you Ahmed. I think there are many of us who'd get quite a lot from hearing your story."
Meanwhile Franz Oz, who voices the character Yoda, tweeted: "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 for him. He is a GREAT character! Okay. Go ahead. Shoot. Gimme all ya got - but you'll never make me change my mind."
Star Wars actor John Boyega recently called on fans to stop harassing his co-stars after a backlash against Kelly Marie Tran, who quit Twitter over the abuse she was receiving - shortly after Daisy Ridley made the same decision.
Boyega, who plays Finn, wrote: 'if you don't like Star Wars or the characters, understand that there are decision makes and harassing the actors/actresses will do nothing.
"You're not entitled to politeness when your approach is rude. Even if you paid for a ticket!"
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