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Michael Jackson Wanted to Play Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Michael Jackson and Jar Jar Binks
The late Michael Jackson once wanted to play Jar Jar Binks in 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images; Lucasfilm Ltd/Courtesy Everett Collection

What a legacy that would have been! Michael Jackson may be remembered today as the King of Pop, but at one point in time, he was vying to play the part of iconic Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks, it was recently revealed.

In a recent interview with Vice magazine, actor Ahmed Best (who did, in fact, end up playing the notoriously obnoxious character) revealed that Jackson originally wanted the role in 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

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“That’s what [director] George [Lucas] told me,” Best, 41, said. “Me, Natalie Portman, and George’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],” he continued. “George introduced me as ‘Jar Jar’ and I was like, That’s kind of weird. Michael was like, ‘Oh. Okay.’ 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.”

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Jackson, who died of cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home in June 2009, was a known fan of the franchise, and had life-size Darth Vader, C-3PO, and Boba Fett figures displayed at his Neverland Ranch.

Though he was revered for his vocal prowess, the pop singer was no stranger to the big screen, having played the Scarecrow in The Wiz, the 1978 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, and Agent M in Men in Black II.

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“My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that,” Best added of Lucas’ decision not to cast Jackson.

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