George Lucas has revealed his favorite “Star Wars” character.
Could it be Luke Skywalker, the Jedi Master himself? Or his twin sister, the fierce and headstrong freedom fighter Princess Leia?
It would make absolute sense if it were the rogue space cowboy Han Solo. Or perhaps it’s the menacing Darth Vader, the super baddy against which all other movie villains have failed to measure.
Nope, nope, nope and nope. The man who dreamed up the “Star Wars” universe and brought it to life on the big screen says that of all the iconic characters he conjured up, the one he most loves is … Jar Jar Binks.
Yes, Lucas really said . Jar Jar Binks.
Lucas made the proclamation during a video that was played at a panel for the 20th Anniversary for the “Star Wars” prequel “The Phantom Menace,” according to the Daily Mail. Lucas additionally gave a shoutout to Ahmed Best, who gave Jar Jar his voice and portrayed him through motion capture.
“‘The Phantom Menace’ is one of my favorite movies, and of course Jar Jar is my favorite character. Ahmed, you did a fantastic job. It was very, very hard,” Lucas said.
We could have accepted a choice of any number of non-human characters — Yoda, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Anakin Skywalker.
But Jar Jar Binks?
The character was instantly polarizing when it made its first appearance in 1999’s “Phantom Menace.” Some fans charged that Jar Jar was a racist stereotype, pointing to his Caribbean-like accent and floppy ears that seemed to resemble dreadlocks. Both Lucas and Best denied the allegations.
Some critics believed the character to be a marketing ploy, a cutesy character meant to appeal to a younger audience.
Others were just simply annoyed. The backlash was so severe that Jar Jar, a major character in “Phantom Menace,” was relegated to a cameo in 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith,” the final installment of the prequel trilogy.
The fans’ stance might have softened over the years. At the 20th anniversary panel, Best was given a standing ovation.
The 45-year-old has said that he struggled in the past with the negative reception, and at one point contemplated suicide.
“I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” he said in a social media post last year, according to the Daily Mail. “This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about.”
For all the complaints, Jar Jar was revolutionary in one sense. He was the first character ever portrayed through motion capture.
“We broke a lot of ground,” Lucas said in his video.
“We were using test equipment but it was the beginning of digital, even though we didn’t get to shoot the whole thing digitally, we got to shoot part of it so it was really one of the first digital features, and I’m very proud of that.”