It’s been a big week for Star Wars fans as folks around the world celebrated the franchise on May 4th. In addition to the annual “Star Wars Day,” Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was rereleased in theaters this weekend in honor of its 25th anniversary. Not only did the movie have a successful little haul at the box office, but some fans were surprised by an appearance from Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). Turns out, McGregor isn’t the only Phantom star who plans to glimpse the movie on the big screen. Yesterday, ComicBook had the chance to interview Ahemd Best (Jar Jar Binks) at the grand opening of Bricks and Minifigs in Pasadena, California. Best was there with Popup Con, a cool event he started a few years ago. During the chat, the actor explained the history of the con, talked about catching the Phantom Menace rerelease in theaters, and addressed the upcoming Star Wars Celebration in Japan.

“It came out yesterday, so I haven’t been to theaters yet, but I’m going to go this weekend and see what it’s like,” Best shared. However, the actor doesn’t plan to make his presence known, adding that he will “try to be incognito” to “see how the reception is.” Best has had a complicated history with Jar Jar and has opened up in the past about how the backlash to his character was incredibly difficult for him. However, there has been a resurgence of love for the character in addition to the film, and Best is “excited that it’s back on the big screen.”

“I think something needs to bring people back to these theaters, and for that big screen experience,” Best explained. “And Phantom Menace was made for a big screen experience … George [Lucas] always looked at movies in a ‘real estate.’ So things are put on the screen for a reason. When he built Phantom Menace, he built it for the dimensions that this screen was supposedly going to take up … It’s about the experience, and he’s very specific about that … He’s not only just a wonderful cinephile, but as somebody who is able to craft screen art, he’s incredibly detailed and incredibly specific, and he means everything he puts on a screen, every frame has a meaning. And the size of the screen matters just as much as what’s on the screen.”

What Is Popup Con?

“So Popup Con actually started before the pandemic,” Best shared. “I always wanted to do something primarily to look at small niche businesses. When it came to entertainment stuff, I grew up in comic book stores all my life. I grew up in toy stores all my life … And I always loved the cultures that were around it. Every time I would go to a comic book store when I was a kid, it’d be all the same people … You’d have all of these people who were so passionate, not just about what was in the store, but the store itself. It’s something that I always really loved. And when big box stores came in, that kind of disappeared.”

“The big conventions are cool, but sometimes it gets a little much,” Best explained. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to have the stamina to do all of them, and sometimes it gets kind of transactional, more transactional than I like. I kind of like the fact that you get to talk to people. I like the fact that you get to know people and you get a little bit of time. So I was like, ‘Well, what if there was a con that would just pop up in these very niche mom-and-pop stores?’ Especially things like comic book stores or video stores or Lego stores or toy stores, and it would be the people affiliated with the store, but you can also spend a little bit more time with people coming through, and that’s when Popup Con comes.”

We asked Best if his preference for smaller venues meant he wouldn’t be going to Star Wars Celebration Japan in 2025, but the actor still isn’t sure.

“I don’t know yet,” Best explained. “It’s about scheduling more than anything else. I want to go to Japan. I love Japan so very much.”

Stay tuned for more from our interview with Ahmed Best.



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