Michael Jackson in 'Star Wars'? It almost happened
I never thought I’d be saying “Michael Jackson” and “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” in the same sentence, but the universe is a mysterious place, and I really should have learned my lesson by now about never saying never.
So here it goes. Michael Jackson was almost cast in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. That sentence happened.
“But as WHAT?” you ask. “One of the Darths? Someone from the Trade Federation or Galactic Senate? A rando Sith?”
No, no, no, you guys. It was so much weirder than that. Michael Jackson was almost cast as (wait for it) Jar Jar Binks.
“Shut UP,” you say, and look, I’m happy to shut up about this in a couple hundred more words, but that doesn’t change the fact that one of the most legendary pop stars of all time almost played Star Wars‘ most controversial character of all time.
Vice recently did an interview with actor Ahmed Best AKA the actor who actually ended up playing Jar Jar, and the interviewer referenced a Reddit AMA in which Best had revealed that Jackson was originally considered for the role.
So how did Best find out about this casting-that-almost-was? At a Michael Jackson concert RIGHT AFTER meeting Michael Jackson, because remember that whole thing about the universe being a mysterious place?
As Best explained to Vice:
That’s what George told me. 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.
The history of casting is riddled with crazy almosts and might have beens, but this is one of the most jaw-dropping alternate-universe castings we’ve ever heard of. Michael as Jar Jar. Mind=boggled.