Darth Maul debuted in 1999's Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with Ray Park giving the character his physicality while Peter Serafinowicz offered his vocal talents. Actor Sam Witwer has voiced the character throughout Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, as well as voicing the character in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Despite being the dominating performer behind the character for years, Witwer claims he owes a significant portion of the credit of developing the character to Park.
"I really lay a lot of the credit at Ray's feet. He brought an amazing presence and a wonderful performance to it in Phantom Menace. It's really stuck with us all as fans," Witwer shared with ComicBook.com. "Ray had created a character that was very healthy in the fans' eyes and in the hearts of fans, really had a wonderful life that went beyond Phantom Menace, all because of the presence of Ray Park. I got to jump on there and maybe add a little bit more to it. Ray and George [Lucas]. I believe it was Iain McCaig who created the art.
Fans who only followed the live-action Star Wars stories thought Darth Maul died in Phantom Menace, though his animated exploits depicted how he survived his encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi, obtained mechanical legs, and became a ruthless crime lord.
Much like the character pieced himself back together, Witwer noted that there is a tradition in the galaxy far, far away of having multiple performers contribute to portraying larger than life villains.
"Star Wars villains have always been composite villains. If you look at Darth Vader, I can name a bunch of people who contributed to that character, Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Sebastian Shaw," Witwer noted. "These Star Wars characters are bigger than the actors that play them. Look, I'm just a small cog in the Darth Maul machine. That engine was already humming along at 88 miles per hour."
Witwer's connection to the character and compelling performances over the years have caused many fans to wonder if a live-action interpretation of Maul could ever be in the actor's future, yet he went on to clarify that he would deny the opportunity if Park wasn't involved.
"I would always insist that Ray be there and that his presence be a part of that character because of the composite nature of these characters," Witwer admitted. "Even when it came to Clone Wars, we were animating to create Ray. That's the way I feel about it."
He added, "You have to have the right people in place, and you have to have the right care for it. If you're going to get the character right, Ray must be involved. That's the way I feel about it. [Solo director] Ron [Howard] obviously felt the same way. Ray had his latitude on set to do what he felt was right. He needs to have that. You cannot underestimate any piece of these characters when it comes to creating them and creating a rounded, memorable Star Wars villain."4comments
Fans can enjoy Witwer and Park's contributions to the character when Solo: A Star Wars Story lands on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD on September 25th.
Do you agree with Witwer about Park's important in the saga? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!