On the latest installment of The Mandalorian, Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best makes his return to the world of Star Wars as a completely different character.
In the Carl Weathers-directed fourth episode of Season 3, “The Foundling,” Best shows up for several thrilling minutes during a flashback to the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’s Order 66. As Jedi knight Kelleran Beq, he’s able to rescue a young Grogu (f.k.a. Baby Yoda), who’s just moments away from falling to clone troopers. Kelleran quickly deals with the troopers through the use of two lightsabers, and gets Grogu to his ship before flying away together. The fate of Beq—nicknamed the Sabered Hand—is unknown, leaving the possibility for future appearances.
In a post shared on Instagram, Best, 49, shared his excitement to return to Star Wars via its hottest ongoing property. “Gratitude! Good to be back,” he wrote after the new Mandalorian went live. “There is so much to say and share. It’s going to take a couple of days. But, for now, I’ll just say thank you to all that have held me up and made me better. #stayready.”
Best previously portrayed Kelleran Beq in the 2020 web series Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, a game show for children involving obstacle courses. Fans are most familiar with Best as Jar Jar Binks, the infamous Gungan character who made his debut in 1999’s Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Jar Jar was widely ridiculed at the time, and has gone down as one of the most criticized characters in Star Wars history. His planned role in the follow-ups was dramatically diminished, barely showing up in the rest of the prequel trilogy.
In an interview in 2019, Best said that the criticism heavily impacted him and almost drove him to suicide. “It hit me. It came right for me. I was called every racial stereotype you can imagine. There was this criticism of being this Jamaican, broken dialect, which was offensive because I’m of West Indian descent—I’m not Jamaican. It was debilitating. I didn’t know how to respond,” he told Participant in the conversation below. “I felt tired of having to defend myself and defend my work. I felt tired of having to fight back against racism and the racial stereotypes. I just wanted to play a part. I was exhausted.”
Last October, Ahmed shared a screenshot showing news outlets covering his impending one-man stage show through the lens of him being an all-time-loathed character.
“‘Hated’ ‘worst’ ‘cringe worthy’ ‘much maligned’ I’ve been dealing with these words for nearly 25 years,” he candidly wrote. “Those of us who have given our lives and call ourselves artists know that this comes with the job. I wasn’t prepared for this when #starwars came out in 99. I wrote this show to help me deal with what my true feelings are about my entire experience including what brought me to the edge.”
He concluded the 2022 post, “I’m very afraid to put this out there because of criticism like this, but I’m compelled to do it now because it’s the job.”
Fast forward to today, and Best has the pleasure of sharing a ton of supportive, downright overjoyed reactions to his Mandalorian appearance on his IG Stories.