Sources: COS |Vice | All Things Michael
Michael Jackson soared in his role as a scary yet dance-crazed zombie in his classic clip for “Thriller”. Turns out he wanted to use the same prosthetics and makeup approach from that performance for another acting job: Jar Jar Binks in 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately for The King of Pop, though, he didn’t get the gig.
The strange news surfaced during a recent interview with Ahmed Best, the man who ended up beating Jackson for the job. As the story goes, George Lucas clued the actor in on the tidbit while at a Jackson concert in London. Best speculates that Lucas didn’t want the “Billie Jean” singer’s popularity to overshadow the film. Here’s his account of that revealing night:
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]. 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.
Best previously mentioned the Jackson-Jar Jar Binks anecdote in a Reddit interview last year, but most seemed to shrug it off as a joke. While far-fetched, it wouldn’t exactly be implausible. The late singer’s love of the Star Wars franchise was well-known; his Neverland Ranch was stocked with a number of life-sized character statues such as Darth Vader and C-3PO.
While nothing could really beat seeing Jackson play Jar Jar Binks, here’s a video ofStar Wars characters dancing to “Smooth Criminal.”
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