Yesterday we were all innocent and naive. Today that is gone. Today we know that Michael Jackson was in the running to play Jar Jar Binks in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” But the real kicker? Does anyone else find themselves asking “What would it have possibly hurt?”
Let”s back up for a minute. Vice did an interview with Ahmed Best about his career in Hollywood. If that names doesn”t sound familiar, it”s because most people don”t realize he was Jar Jar Binks actor. Or that Jar Jar Binks HAD an actor outside of a voice recording booth.
Behest discusses the nascent motion-capture technology used in “The Phantom Menance” that would later be thrust into the national spotlight with Andy Serkis” Gollum in “Lord of the Rings.” But things get weird once Behest starts down memory lane:
George [Lucas] told me [Michael Jackson wanted the part]. [W]e were at Wembley arena at Michael Jackson's concert. We were taken backstage and we met Michael. George introduced me as ‘Jar Jar” and I was like, ‘That's kind of weird.” Michael was like, ‘Oh. OK.” 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 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.
Take a minute to let that sink in. Can you picture it? Can you see it in your mind”s eye? Michael Jackson – circa 1999 – in full Jar Jar make-up, repeating lines like “Meesa Jar Jar Binks!” Michael Jackson loping across a green screen background to catch up with Liam Neeson. Michael Jackson sneaking a quick “Thriller” dance reference into the closing ceremony at the end of “The Phantom Menace.”
If you can”t picture it, the Internet is here to the rescue. From EIGHT years ago, because truly no idea is original.
Aside from the unnamed generation that follows Millennials, Jar Jar Binks is nearly universally hated. Would our loathing have been lessened or further inflamed with a divisive pop star under the mask? Would a stunt casting in prosthetics have engendered more sympathy or engulfed Jackson in blowback like Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar?
We”ll never know. But it makes you think.
BONUS! Ahmed Best recently posted his first copy of the “Attack of the Clones” script to Instagram. The title was George Lucas” sticking it to the haters.