Free Park-ingLuke Y. Thompson
With a $392 million worldwide gross, Solo: A Star Wars Story might have been a hit, had it not cost $275 million to make, with a mid-stream change in directors responsible for more cost overruns than most Star Wars features. However, the switch from Chris Miller and Phil Lord to Ron Howard did lead to at least one fan-favorite moment onscreen: the return of Ray Park’s Maul (no longer a “Darth,” per the animated series continuity) in a surprise cameo that may or may not set up future films. “I found out last June/July when we were in Guatemala,” he tells me, a time which, unbeknownst to him, coincided with Howard stepping into the director’s chair. “I got the phone call from Lynne Hale from Lucasfilm. And it was really nice of her, because she said to me ‘Ray, we’re just calling to see if you would like to do it.’ And I went [inhales slowly] ‘Yeah. Do you want me on the plane now?’” He ended up filming in October, towards the end of production.
In the Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows, Maul survived being cut in half at the end of The Phantom Menace, and made a comeback with robotic legs, though in Solo, you only see his upper body in a hologram. Now, in support of Solo‘s upcoming release on Movies Anywhere (Sept. 14th) and Blu-ray and 4K (Sept. 25th), Lucasfilm has released images of Ray Park in full Maul costume with the robot legs.
He knows how to use them.Lucasfilm
Park actually blatantly spoiled his own cameo well ahead of time, but because fans were so focused on the idea of him being in an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, nobody really guessed he meant Solo. “I may have deleted a bunch, but if you go back and check all my Instagram posts, I was secretly telling everyone, but no-one knew.”
And by “secretly” he means posts like this one, with the image, “Now… I wonder why i shaved my hair a wee while ago? #sith #sithlife #secrets #baldy #cleanshaved #starwars #solo #maul #surprise #london #besttime #thankyou.”
Two blades are always better.Lucasfilm
Unlike in The Phantom Menace, where as a choreographer he was given the entire script, this time he had only his lines and “a couple of sheets of what was going on beforehand, and then what was happening, and it’s pretty cool, because Sam [Witwer] did the voice and it was a different process for me. It was hearing the voice and then acting as well, so I really enjoyed this experience.” He was particularly fond of his lightsaber upgrade, even though all he does in the movie is ignite it. But “if anything ever happens in the future and the character is back, and it’s me? I have a lot of great ideas of what I’d like to do with it.”
Another character he’d like to revisit is G. I. Joe ninja commando Snake Eyes, saying, “I’m in a different state in my life now then I was before. I’m a lot fitter, I’m older, I’m wiser I think, and I’d like to bring that to Snake Eyes…I was signed on for three movies, and I would like to do the third one. I’d like to finish it.” He’s been proactive, recalling “I’ve been hearing these rumors about [G.I. Joe vs] Transformers, so I emailed [producer] Lorenzo [di Bonaventura] and said hey, I’d love to be Snake Eyes again; just let me jump in and audition!” He hasn’t gotten the call yet.
But he does make us wonder who would win if both had lightsabers: Maul or Snake Eyes? He has thought about it, saying, “Someone said to me on Instagram last night ‘ah, that’d be a bad*** move if Maul did a double 360 with a lightsaber! No-one could take him out.’ And I said, yeah, Snake Eyes could. But it’s like: no-one can take out Maul, and no-one can take out Snake Eyes.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi might disagree. But there was no way I was going to.