Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace released in 1999, and the response has been fascinating–it received mixed reviews and a sour response from older fans, but is now looked back on with a mix of derision and nostalgia. Liam Neeson, who played Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn in the prequel, has now reflected back on the movie–and how one of its other stars was treated by fans.
Talking to SiriusXM show Radio Andy (as picked up on by IndieWire), Neeson talks about Ahmed Best, who played the controversial Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace. Neeson recalls thinking that Best could be “the next Eddie Murphy,” and he was upset by how much criticism the actor drew.
“I know a lot of fans and critics didn’t like it, and my lovely friend Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks, came in for a lot of criticism,” Neeson says. “To the point where it really hurt his career.”
Neeson says that the fans have turned around on Best now, and are more respectful. Best has previously talked about how the reception of Jar Jar Binks took him to a dark place, but he’s set to return to Star Wars soon to host a new Star Wars game show.
Neeson says that he likes the movie, too. “I got to be a Jedi, got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff…I liked the movie. I’m proud of it. I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
Liam Neeson’s Jinn dies in The Phantom Menace, but the actor made a vocal cameo in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
While the next Star Wars movie is a while away, fans can look forward to The Mandalorian Season 2 starting October 30 on Disney +.