Ahmed Best On A Whole Host Of Things

Ahmed Best had plenty to say on a long interview with YouTuber Jamie Stangroom.


I wouldn’t change anything [about The Phantom Menace]. There is nothing to change it to. There really hasn’t been anything like it, and the choices that were made were choices that stand, you know, the test of time. Like I said, love it or hate it, you believed it, it existed. So I really wouldn’t change anything and it was such a wonderful experience, you know.

On Disney’s flicks:

The hard part about being in a Star Wars movie done by George Lucas is he really does things that he believes. He has an incredible conviction behind every decision that he makes. That’s not the way Disney does movies. Disney does movies in a way that has to please stockholders, and that has to please a wide swath of people, a huge general audience. So you’re only going to get things that are as risky as that number of people. George only cared about pleasing himself, and when you have that, you have a person who has a point of view that regardless of what you think, they are going to take the risk to do it.

On killing off Jar Jar (!!!):

I always complained to George, like when I realized that Sith was not gonna have Jar Jar in it pretty much and they were moving very very far away from me… I always complained to George that I didn’t get a good death. I wanted to really be just hacked to pieces in some kind of way, and George wouldn’t do it.

On Lucasfilm not doing enough to promote Jar Jar’s place in movie tech history:

Episode I dropped in 1999, the last year of the 20th century, and here was this pioneering process that pretty much took over the 21st century. To slight everyone involved or to not be aware of the history of that… and I have to say Lucasfilm is partially to blame here as well, because I don’t think they focused too much on the process of making the character, and I think that is what should have been the star, when we were talking about Jar Jar. Everyone was just playing catch-up from the backlash and although I understand that, I think the converse argument to it is filmmaking has changed and we changed it, and the reason why you hated the character was because the process was succesful.

There’s LOTS more. Plus, what’s this about a book?

(Transcription originated on Naboo News.)


29 Responses to “Ahmed Best On A Whole Host Of Things”

  1. Natalie Says:

    Why does everyone want to die in SW? First Ford, now Ahmed. Thank goodness GL didn’t go that route.

    • Nariel Says:

      I guess they want their characters to have a memorable end, which would also serve as a sort of closure for the actor regarding the character? I think Samuel L. Jackson wanted it too (and of course he got it).

      • Natalie Says:

        Well Harrison got his wish… and IMO it was a terrible scene, with no resonance, he’s falling down the shaft like he’s a Sith, WTF JJ was trying to say here?

      • lazypadawan Says:

        I joked that they tried to make this so final, I’m surprised Kylo didn’t also put a stick of dynamite in Han’s pants so he’d explode in mid-air. HE’S NOT COMING BACK PEOPLE!

      • Natalie Says:

        Hey, they brought Maul back the animated series, and I think Boba Fett too (EU) so who knows!

    • Cryogenic Says:

      I didn’t feel unsettled hearing Ahmed *himself* say he’d have preferred a more dramatic end for Jar Jar. Strangely, I do when other people articulate that wish. But I can understand Ahmed personally hankering for that to have happened. He talks about closure a couple of times. I think his mindset has always been that both he and Jar Jar were, in effect, written out of history — pushed out of the frame. And there’s certainly some truth to that. Everyone quests to be seen and known. On the other hand, I think Jar Jar’s arc is very poignantly concluded at the end of ROTS; even if the final fate of Jar Jar remains a mystery. The lack of complete closure is, in a sense, its own closure.

  2. SWPN Says:

    Spot on on Disney’s MO. It’s a movie fast-food chain. #1 rule: pander the crowd.

    • Cryogenic Says:

      Yes, that analogy was absolutely fantastic!!!! If Disney are “Dee-Jay-ing” Star Wars all the way, then, as Ahmed says, J.J. Abrams is the ideal guy. Perhaps he should actually be known as “D.J. Abrams”. The ultimate remix artist. And pander is their middle name. As Ahmed says, Star Wars has transformed from an artistic property (with a commercial aspect) to an entirely corporate entity. It’s all about the bottom line. Star Wars is now entirely dictated by profit and designed by committee. We should probably all take a leaf from Ahmed’s book (and read his real book when it comes out!) and fill our plates up and forget about (or at least augment/ameliorate) our own Star Wars obsession. “The Republic is not what it once was.”

      • Nariel Says:

        D.J. Abrams – I admit I literally LOL’d at that.
        I think you’re completely right about Disney, but I’m not going to abandon my SW obsession yet. 🙂 I just choose to focus it on George Lucas’s six-film saga. I only have lukewarm interest in Disney’s continuation of it.

  3. HelenaHelen Says:

    I just love him! (glad George didn’t hack him up!)

  4. Raleigh St. Clair Says:

    Jar Jar’s despondent look during Padme’s funeral procession was effective enough and supplanted the need for a death scene.

    • joe Says:

      he’s also ok with jar jar ‘s fate in the new eu (which i idiotically spoiled don’t worry i won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet)

      • Cryogenic Says:

        joe Says:
        November 9, 2017 at 8:55 am | Reply
        he’s also ok with jar jar ‘s fate in the new eu (which i idiotically spoiled don’t worry i won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet)

        Yes, Joe. He seems “okay” with that one. I am “okay” with it, myself. Here’s what I wrote about it back in February:

        I must admit…

        It’s fitting and not fitting. Like Jar Jar himself.

        But, ah, to try and wrestle out of that contradiction, and propound a real view…

        Look, they’re doing their own thing, and obviously acknowledging the hatred and ill-feeling toward on Jar Jar both sides of the proscenium; which is kinda neat. On the other hand, in contrast to the arc of the prequels, it’s regressing Jar Jar to something of a bumbling, self-immolating, infantile state. At the end of the prequel trilogy, Jar Jar may be a tragic figure who made a terrible mistake, but he still leaves the silver-screen magisterium with his dignity intact. He finished TPM a proud warrior who helped to unite two estranged cultures and heal a symbiotic circle, he at least took the burden off anyone else giving Palpatine emergency powers in AOTC (and he was doing what he thought was right — much like all the other characters), and he was still serving the much-respected former queen of Naboo, and his world entire, in ROTS (despite, it seems, being liked or wanted around by no-one). Now he’s… entertaining kids and splashing about in a fountain… and doing cheap slapstick like he’s Jake LaMotta.

        But there is a profundity to it; especially if one reads the full extract via the following link:


        Banished by both civilizations; no friends, no family; no tribe that wants to claim him as their own.

        It’s tragically beautiful. I like two further things that are stated or implied in the extract:

        i) “He does tricks. He juggles. He falls over and shakes his head as his eyes roll around inside their fleshy stalks. He makes goofy sounds and does strange little dances. Sometimes it’s the same performance, repeated. Sometimes the Gungan does different things, things you’ve never seen, thing’s you’ll never see again.”

        Things you’ve never seen, things you’ll never see again. Something awesomely touching about that:


        ii) There’s apparently the tentative suggestion, the delicate hope, that Jar Jar might be making a friend at the end. Someone he can teach the ways of the Force — or the ways of the clown — to. Well, shoot, everyone needs a friend, and a reason to exist, right? Maybe Jar Jar gets to retain a drop of dignity after all.

        Colour me jarringly impressed.

    • Cryogenic Says:

      I can understand why Ahmed says what he does. He’s obviously hankered a long time for closure. But I agree with you on that final scene. Here’s something I wrote about Jar Jar’s last appearance in the original saga in 2011:

      I liked having Jar Jar at the end of ROTS at Padme’s funeral (after, of course, seeing — and hearing — him fleetingly on Coruscant). Beyond the immediate sadness of seeing him behind the perished Rococo queen who had undertaken a journey with him some thirteen years ago, all flaccid ears and dipped head, there’s also this greater poignancy to the scene: it is a reminder, if you will, of the myriad ways the best of intentions (Padme turning on Valorum by calling for a vote of no confidence and enabling Palpatine to power, Jar Jar motioning that Palpatine should have emergency powers enabling him to establish the Empire) can bring about the worst of ends. Both these characters were blind to the faultiness of their own presumptions, each Naboo-ite from opposing (but complementary) societies giving ground to a fellow from their neck of the woods, who they had allowed themselves to believe was as decent and humble as they probably considered themselves to be. And in the words of their deceiver, this scene makes clear that they have paid the price for their lack of vision; as so often happens in society, in life. Haunting and beautiful.

  5. Keith Palmer Says:

    It was all too easy for me in the lead up to “Episode III” to imagine even the noblest possible end for Jar Jar being met with whooping and cheering from fanboy-heavy audiences, so I was more than happy to see he’d survived the movie. (There are also those theories he was the Gungan shouting “Wesa free!” from the RotJ DVD on…)

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Yeah, that would be the main reason why I wouldn’t kill Jar Jar off. Why give the haters what they want?

    • Cryogenic Says:

      GL obviously had different aims in mind. Not everything in life gets an easy resolution. Kowtowing to the haters would have been the ultimate (ignominious) example of breaking the fourth wall. Jar Jar’s spirit perishes with Padme and the Republic. It’s a haunting and poignant end. Even the new fate of Jar Jar in “Aftermath” essentially puts a bow-tie (or a pair of clown shoes) on that ending.

  6. Cryogenic Says:

    Wrote this out on “Naboo News”. Wanted to put it here, too — as all the same words apply:

    This is a beautiful blog, Ahmed is a beautiful man, and that is a beautiful interview. I actually got a little emotional toward the end. This video offers abundant proof that Ahmed is a wonderfully warm, sincere, thoughtful, articulate, perceptive, and interesting person. He delivers a wonderful analogy between Star Wars under Lucas (the great and meaningful thing it once was), and what it has now become, alas, under Disney (dictated by profit, designed by committee). It is obvious that playing Jar Jar and working for a visionary like George Lucas has significantly impacted his life and moulded his thinking on the world and his place within it — *all* our places within it. I am finally going to explore his “Afro-Futurism” podcast, because it sounds absolutely compelling, and something the world needs more of. Ahmed has clearly filled his plate up mightily and has a keen sensitivity for things. His train is moving in a very positive direction; and he’s evidently trying to open minds and expand horizons. I’ll add that he seems a bit more mature and grounded, these days, too. The way he appears to have come full circle on his embrace of Star Wars (Lucas-driven Star Wars) and his own place in the pop-culture firmament is merely one example. Looking forward to that book!!! Ahmed (much like Jar Jar) is a guy to like and admire on multiple levels. ❤ ❤

  7. jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

    Some very beautiful posts about Jar Jar.

    Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, WETA, and geek media have always acted like motion capture technology was invented in the LOTR trilogy.

    I do agree that Lucasfilm never really promoted how the technology worked. I think they wanted the CG to seem magical and they probably thought that if they tried to push the technical side of the process that some of the magic would be lost.

    The LOTR people are all just Madonna-wannabes! Andy Serkis is the meat-wearing freak Lady Gaga, but Ahmed Best is the one true Material Girl (I mean this in the nicest way possible). The LOTR people were just shameless rip-off artists. I do believe they convinced themselves that they actually invented all of the technology that was invented for Episode I.

    • Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

      “I think they wanted the CG to seem magical and they probably thought that if they tried to push the technical side of the process that some of the magic would be lost” that is why George Lucas is a genius, a true wizard. He rather not do anything that could possibly ruin the magic trick, nothing that can spoil the wonder. I mean to think about it, I’d rather when watching jar Jar, Grievous, and Yoda think of the character rather than the effect/tech, which does come to mind whenever looking at some newer films/tv

      • Cryogenic Says:

        On the other hand, George-run Lucasfilm did, in a sense, let it all hang out. Just watch “The Beginning”. Would the new Disney-LFL two-headed (podrace) monster really release a documentary like that? A lot of that documentary was later picked apart and feasted on like carrion and quote-mined as glaring “proof” the prequels sucked, and it practically became sacred nerd dogma that Lucas knew he was making a turkey from Day One.

        Of course, all that negative fan bias aside, the documentary is fascinating and highly entertaining. Witness Ahmed being fitted into the Jar Jar suit for the first time, see him jumping around in spandex trying to get a vacuum cleaner off his leg, and watch Lucas get into a snit about spending $100,000 on a suit they might not have needed after all. It has a salty, earthy “goof” factor that’s very Star Wars, and it’s a very satisfying companion to TPM itself — and a nice “cinema verite” tribute to high-concept movie-making in general.

        Disney are the ones putting lipstick on a Rodian. Lucas was generous enough to give people a relatively unembroidered (if still truncated/selective) look behind the curtain (at the risk of mixing metaphors). Where George-run Lucasfilm slightly fell down was probably in flaunting the digital side of the process too much (at least in II and III). It has been enjoyable to see prequel fans correcting that imbalance; but that imbalance first brought a false narrative about the prequels being crammed with digital effects, which the two-headed Disney-LFL monster wasted no time seizing upon for its own ends.

        And yes, Lucas-authored Star Wars is still “the firstest with the mostest”. There’s nothing else close.

      • Pedro Felipe Says:

        That’s it cryogenic!!! The dishonest re-writing of history the haters take so much effort to do- false claim, after false claim, distorting historical data, etc- is one of the things that most upsets me about them. They LIE, constantly, look at their forums, at the risk of throwing up, and you’ll find that things like “George didn’t really write Star Wars, it was his friends at the barbecue!” are taken as holy truth.

  8. Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

    The final bit, where Ahmed read Jar Jar’s moment in the book… it hit the feels, it felt like a nice closure for a lovable character who started off as a childish well-meaning outcast and has grown over an adventure that may have went downhill, but even with a bitter-sweat end, he didn’t let the consequential mistake corrupt him. A better ending would be nice to see on screen but for now, that was a fine conclusion.

  9. Stefan Kraft Says:

    Ahmed is quite harsh on Disney, but he IMHO has a point. I’m wondering whether the announced next SW trilogy will offer Rian Johnson at least in parts the creative freedom that GL had. (Anyway, LP was right: the announcement of the next trilogy was a question of when, not if.)

    • Cryogenic Says:

      Stefan Kraft Says:
      November 11, 2017 at 3:19 am | Reply
      Ahmed is quite harsh on Disney

      I think Ahmed is actually being cordial/polite. Direct, but polite. He’s kind of like Jar Jar in that way. I also think, while he would probably never put it like this, he’s speaking on Lucas’ behalf — since Lucas has kind of been gagged by Disney/LFL (his own baby!) and is moving on to other things (but then, really, so is Ahmed). Representative Binks. Just love that whole interview. George really was telling the truth when he said: “Jar Jar is the key to all this.”

      • Stefan Kraft Says:

        Fair point. I have a bit more positive view of Disney, but I agree that Disney is certainly not that inclined to risk something like GL.

  10. andywylde77 Says:

    I have been saying the same thing that Ahmed has been saying about Disney regarding SW. And he is right. Now with episode 8, this will be the tell tale sign if Disney is really giving Rian the creative freedom he has said he has. I do hope episode 8 is good. But I do have many concerns of it being a rehash similar to TFA. So when TLJ rolls out then I will be able to see who the one pulling the strings is.

    And now there is a new trilogy on the horizon and I heard it will take place way, way in the future. I don’t know how true this is, so don’t quote me on this. But if it is true, I hope and expect there to be all new things and concepts never before seen in any SW content. No more X-wings or Tie fighters. No more Death Stars etc. If it is another trilogy of rebels vs. empire then I am done. Because with Disney in charge, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they did pull that.

    Oh and if anyone is interested, Patton Oswalt recently went one a PT bashing tirade. Yeah, what else is new? But his remarks were pretty sickening. I won’t say them here. But if you do decide to check it out, prepared to be sick to your stomach. Because I sure was!

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