Sam Witwer was given a daunting task when he was cast on Star Wars: The Clone Wars as Darth Maul. The former Sith Apprentice was cast aside after being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first prequel film, The Phantom Menace, and was thought to be dead ever since.
When Maul was found by his brother Savage Oppress in the Star Wars Rebels’ predecessor series, he was still the torso as Kenobi left him, afflicted with rage and insanity.
“George [Lucas] went a few steps further, and said, ‘Not only is the dark side keeping him from dying and holding onto what he has, but he is so greedily protective of himself that pieces of garbage have begun to stick to him,” Witwer said to StarWars.com, “and over the years the garbage has accumulated and grown out into these monstrous spider-legs that he gets around on.’”
The character eventually received mechanical legs, and attempted to enact his vengeance on both Kenobi and the Sith. But he suffered at the hands of Darth Sidious, who killed his brother Oppress in front of him and spared Maul to a miserable life suffering the loss.
“It was our responsibility to make a character with intellect and a heart and a soul and dreams of his own,” Witwer said.
The character wasn’t seen on The Clone Wars after that, and Witwer acknowledged that he was thrilled to return to the character in Star Wars Rebels.
I’m thrilled, because we didn’t get to finish The Clone Wars in the way that we had planned,” Witwer said. “We had a lot more Maul to go. So being able to conclude that arc with this character that I’ve been playing now for a few years, it’s tremendously meaningful for me, and I feel very lucky to be here.”
Maul eventually met his final fate at the hands of the person who initially sent him on the downward spiral in last week’s episode, “Twin Suns.”
After manipulating Ezra Bridger all season so that he could finally track down Kenobi, Maul’s rage lead to his undoing at the hands of the Jedi Master. Kenobi takes a stance similar to the one Qui-Gon Jin took when Maul killed him, but Kenobi has transcended his former self and become an agent of destiny.
He ultimately does away with Maul in a single blow after blocking two strikes. It’s over in less than three seconds. And with his dying breath, as Kenobi clutches his foe in an effort to give him peace, Maul still chooses rage.
“I love the idea,” Witwer says. “I love the fact that he’s that close to redemption and he maybe doesn’t get there. He misses the point. But at the same time, through the cinematography, there’s a clarity that he has been, if not redeemed, forgiven.”
The third season finale of Star Wars Rebels, called “Zero Hour,” airs today on Disney XD. It has already been picked up for a Maul-less fourth season.
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD, and follows the adventures of Hera (Vanessa Marshall), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Zeb (Steve Blum), and the Jedi Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and Ezra (Taylor Gray), a small crew that's finding their way in the nascent Rebel Alliance a few years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.
Executive produced by Simon Kinberg and Dave Filoni, the in-canon series helps to connect the worlds of the films and the previous animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with guest appearances so far by characters like Lando Calrissian, Ahsoka Tano, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Leia Organa, Wedge Antilles, and more.