Ahmed Best tells Vice that he once attended a Jackson concert in London with George Lucas and Natalie Portman – sometime after the three prequels were made – and they went backstage and met Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.
"George introduced me as 'Jar Jar' and I was like, That's kind of weird," says Best, 41. "Michael was like, 'Oh. Okay.' I thought, What is going on?"
Later, they attended an afterparty. "I'm having a drink with George, and I said, 'Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?' " says Best. "He said, 'Well, Michael wanted to do the part, but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like Thriller.' "
Instead, Lucas wanted the goofy Gungan to be CGI, based off a real actor's movements. And Best says there was likely another reason the pop superstar didn't get the role.
"My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie," Best says, "and I don't think he wanted that."
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George Lucas discovered Best while the singer-dancer-drummer was working in the San Francisco production of the musical Stomp. Jar Jar has been much maligned over the years for being irritating, but Lucas has long stood by the character.