Michael Jackson loved Star Wars. His Neverland ranch was filled with memorabilia from the film, including life-size Darth Vader and Boba Fett statues. But Jackson took his love further. He wanted to star in one of the films, and he almost did, playing the absolute worst character in the prequel trilogy: Jar Jar Binks.
Ahmed Best, the actor who did bring that wisecracking platypus-like alien to life, first mentioned that he was up against Jackson for the role in a Reddit AMA from April 2014. "Michael Jackson really wanted to do it but George picked me," he wrote. "Marinate on that one. I still am."
In a Vice interview published Thursday, he told the full story behind how he found out that he was up against the King of Pop. Apparently, Best once went with Natalie Portman, George Lucas and Lucas' kids to see Jackson perform at Wembley arena. They went backstage and Lucas introduced Best to Jackson as "Jar Jar."
"That's kind of weird," Best recalled thinking. "Michael was like, 'Oh. OK.' I thought, What is going on? After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big after-party. I'm having a drink with George and I said, 'Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?' He said, 'Well, Michael wanted to do the part but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like Thriller.' George wanted to do it in CGI."
Best also added, "My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don't think [Lucas] wanted that."
It's probably a good thing Jackson didn't step in front of that bullet. "Jar Jar Binks must die" has become somewhat of a rallying cry in nerd communities, as diehard fans blame the character for ruining the Star Wars prequels. Fans have created several recut versions of the film completely removing Jar Jar, or killing him off by altering a deleted scene where he almost falls off a waterfall. But perhaps Jar Jar might not endured this treatment if Jackson had been behind the mask, working that masterful footwork. We will never know what could have been.