When The Phantom Menace (1999) came out, it inspired a new generation of Star Wars fans. The film also divided many within the fanbase more loyal to the original trilogy. Liam Neeson starred as Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn in his lone physical live-action appearance in the franchise. While his character fell during the climactic battle with Darth Maul (Ray Park), his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), was able to avenge his master. While making only vocal cameos in Dave Filoni's The Clone Wars and the live-action The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Neeson had nothing but fond memories of shooting TPM speaking with host Andy Cohen on his SiriusXM channel Radio Andy.
Liam Neeson's Star Wars Memories, Defending The Phantom Menace Costar Ahmed Best
"I like the film. I proud of it and proud to have been a part of it," Neeson said. "I got to be a Jedi. I got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff. It was terrific, Andy, it really was." The Oscar-nominee sympathized and defended actor Ahmed Best, who provided the voice of Jar Jar Binks. "He came into a lot of criticism, I mean to the point where it really hurt his career," Neeson said. "And I have to say when I was making that film … he was probably one of the funniest guys and talented guys I have ever worked with." Neeson not only complimented Best on his work but still believes he has the talent to be the next "Eddie Murphy." Best received a huge backlash the time the Star Wars prequels; he once considered suicide (as per The Hollywood Reporter). Neeson told Cohen that Best found the current generation of fans who appreciated his work and admitted his TPM costar was overwhelmed with emotion at a convention appearance. Turning a corner with the fandom, Best now hosts a franchise-themed children's game show called Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge on the streamer Disney+. You can see the rest of the interview below.