Count C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels among the many, many people who were not huge fans of Jar Jar Binks, the bumbling Gungan character introduced by George Lucas in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Interestingly, Daniels' own overly-talkative, griping, uptight protocol droid is himself often maligned for being the Jar Jar Binks of the original Star Wars movie trilogy.
To this day, George Lucas' prequels continue to be heavily criticized by a significant portion of Star Wars fans and Jar Jar Binks is consistently cited as one of the reasons for this ongoing animosity. Many dismiss the character as a misfired attempt at injecting childish comic relief into the film, while others claim the vaguely-Rastafarian-looking, broken-English-speaking character is proof of Lucas' outright racial insensitivity. A very small number of fans are, in spite of everything, staunchly pro-Jar Jar.
Speaking to a crowd during a Q&A at Fan Expo 2017, Daniels discussed his own feelings about the still-divisive character of Jar Jar (via Space). While Daniels praised the actor who brought Jar Jar to life, he admitted that like a lot of people he found the character too childish and silly:
“Jar Jar was created by George Lucas and he employed an actor, Ahmed Best, who is a terrific actor. Terrific mover. Terrific, inventive brain. Highly intelligent. Did exactly what George asked him to do. George’s son Jett was thrilled by that performance that Ahmed did perfectly, but Jett was 10 years old. Now, I wasn’t, so for me Jar Jar was a bit like the Ewoks. I’ve grown past that stage. 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds, eight-year-olds adored Jar Jar. It was a very, very good thing to do… so I hugely admire Ahmed Best. He got very bad press for doing it… and Jar Jar was not for me.”
Lucas was criticized at the time for aiming too much at children with The Phantom Menace, a mistake he apparently tried to rectify by darkening the tone of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (the third film in the prequel trilogy even garnered a PG-13 rating). Lucas also responded to fan backlash over Jar Jar by dialing back the Gungan's screen time in subsequent films, a seeming admission that he missed the mark with his conception of the character.
Despite the prequels' overall negative reputation, there are some fans who ardently defend the films and are even willing to stick up for Jar Jar. One argument that's often carted out in defense of Jar Jar is that he's no more annoying than C-3P0, who spends much of the original trilogy grating on the nerves of his compatriots and by extension the audience. In Empire Strikes Back, the most-beloved of the original films, 3P0 becomes so irritating to Han Solo that he finally orders the droid to be shut off. "Why don't Star Wars OT fans hate C-3P0 as much as they hate Jar Jar?" goes the popular argument.
Anthony Daniels has surely heard enough criticism of his C-3P0 performance over the years that he can't help but sympathize with Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, who after all did not decide how his character would be used in the final films. Both Jar Jar and C-3P0 will continue to be controversial figures as long as the Star Wars films maintain their relevance in the overall pop culture conversation.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018