Liam Neeson has shared some kind words for his The Phantom Menace co-star Ahmed Best. Neeson starred as the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in director George Lucas’ first entry in the prequel trilogy. Best, Meanwhile, portrayed Jar Jar Binks, who went on to become a maligned character within the franchise. But the actor behind the character, according to Neeson, is incredibly talented. So much so that Neeson was convinced Best was going to be the next Eddie Murphy.
The 68-year-old actor was recently a guest on Andy Cohen’s Sirius XM show. During the conversation, the subject of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and its divisiveness more than 20 years later came up. At that point, Liam Neeson opted to share his praise for Ahmed Best. Here’s what he had to say about it.
“I know a lot of fans and critics didn’t like it. Ahmed Best who played Jar Jar Binks, he came into a lot of criticism, I mean to the point where it really hurt his career. And I have to say when I was making that film, with Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks and with Ewan McGregor as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was probably one of the funniest guys and talented guys I have ever worked with. I remember calling… my old ex-agent… and saying, ‘Listen, I think I just worked with the new Eddie Murphy. And I still believe that.”
It is no secret that Jar Jar Binks isn’t the most beloved Star Wars character in history. However, the tidal wave of backlash that wound up squarely in Ahmed Best’s lap was brutal. Jar Jar had a greatly reduced role in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Beyond that, Best’s career never quite took off, unlike many of his co-stars from the prequels. But as Best revealed in 2018, the situation was so bad that he once considered taking his own life.
Yet, as Liam Neeson further explained, “he had all of us in stitches, including George Lucas.” Fortunately, Ahmed Best came out on the other side okay. Aside from Jar Jar Binks, fans remain divided over Episode I. For Liam Neeson, the experience was great and something he looks back on fondly.
“Look, I’m very proud of the film. I got to be a Jedi. I got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff. It was terrific, Andy, it really was.”
There has been a resurgence of support for Ahmed Best within the community in recent years. Best is now the host of Jedi Temple Challenge, a competition series that launched earlier this year, which pits young Jedi hopefuls against one another in a series of challenges. Best also said earlier this year that he would be willing to reprise his role as Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars universe, if the right story came along. You can check out the full interview clip from the Radio Andy YouTube channel.