Michael Jackson: The King of Pop. Jar Jar Binks: The King of Ruining Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. By now the wound is 16 years old and it doesn't sting so bad (unless you contributed to the movie The People vs. George Lucas), so Vice talked to actor Ahmed Best about the character's legacy.
Best sounds pretty chill about the whole thing, but we started salivating as soon as he opened up about the lore about Michael Jackson being considered for the part. Here's the full MJ as JJ story as of now:
"Me, Natalie Portman, and George [Lucas]'s kids—we were at Wembley arena at Michael Jackson's concert. We were taken backstage and we met Michael. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as 'Jar Jar' and I was like, That's kind of weird. Michael was like, 'Oh. OK.' I thought, What is going on? After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big afterparty. 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. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don't think he wanted that.
That's a similar tale to the one Best told Rolling Stone a decade ago, except we'd never heard the thing about the "Thriller"-style practical effects version of Jar Jar, the one that might've made Episode I the greatest thing since The Wiz. Back then the word was just, "George said to cast him would compromise the movie because he's such a big star."
We also once heard that Michael Jackson wanted to play Spider-Man. What could have been.