By Episode VI, George Lucas killed off the two remaining bad boys of the galaxy, Vader and the Emperor. Even wiping out Fett, Jabba and the Death Star in the process. Now, JJ Abrams gets to create, direct and co-write what will be the newest evil introduced, bad enough to stir an old Luke into action 30 years later.
So let's be honest. When it comes to iconic villains in the Star Wars universe, the first one you think of isn't Count Dokoo. Maybe Grievous, Fett or Palpatine, who was apparently pulling the strings since our journey began in Episode I. But, when it comes to bad-ass wrecking balls of the Force who never got a chance to go all out, there is no one more deserving than Ray Park, aka Darth Maul.
And no, this isn't a sob story about Darth Maul unjustly getting cut in half and how unlikely it is in reality (although there's no way a Sith Lord, after defeating a Jedi Master, would watch a Knight fly over him like a blue bird on the afternoon and be SO distracted his Force Sense magically turned off that he suddenly couldn't block a simple saber swing. Ahem.) Maul is dead. I respect the vision of Lucas and his decisions, despite how unbelievable that part of it was for a death scene. I've been able to cope through Obi-Wan's perpetual awesomeness to destroy everyone in Episodes II & III.
Going through the films, there were several key roles that had multiple appearances and while Darth Maul does not need to be resurrected, Ray Park does.
When Park was asked at the London Comic Con what it originally was like playing Darth Maul he stated, "At the time it was sort of a thanks and a tribute to my martial arts teachers.." adding, "..it was a dream come true to get to use my martial arts training after constantly training 10 hours a day for competitions and having to pay your own way. To get paid for something I love was a big compliment. It was a dream come true."
Martial arts you say? Why yes, haven't you heard? Ray Park specializes in the traditional Chinese Northern Shaolin Kung-fu (in the Chin Woo style) and then mastered other various styles, most notably Wushu. In 1991, when Park was 16, he competed in his first international 1st World Wushu Championships. Ray was placed in the top seven in the world.
OK, so the kid's got skills, but can he act? Does he even like to act? Park stated to Flicks and the City that in his first film, Mortal Kombat Annihiliation, at first he didn't want to act. It was too boring and he wanted more action. Then, he realized when doubling for someone else he didn't want to just be a stunt man, he wanted to do the whole thing. "Darth Maul was my first role where I got to do everything"
According to IMDB, his first real speaking part came in X-Men (2000) in the part of Toad and although Darth Maul only briefly spoke in Episode I, his voice was dubbed over with actor Peter Serafinowicz. So...does that mean Park can't act? Does he have the male Fran Dresser voice? Actually, you'd be surprised, his voice sounds very similar to Ewan McGregor aka Obi-Wan. Park even admitted, "I never really liked the audition stage of it, but I really started to enjoy it."
Alright. So he's got the stunt skills. He's got the drive for acting. What does he think about Episode VII? Is there any hesitation to go back to the Force? And how does he feel about J.J. Abrams taking over having worked with George Lucas?
"I think its great that JJ's doing it. I've known for many years he's a big Star Wars fan. What he's done with Star Trek is phenomenal. I'm ecstatic that Star Wars is coming back."
When asked about Star Wars: Episode VII he replied, "I said that I would play anything to do with Star Wars. But really deep down, I really would love to come back as Darth Maul. I would go crazy, go mental. Lock myself in a cabin, do the whole method for two or three months, spear fishing, just to play the character again.
The one main benefit of having Ray Park return in Episode VII, is that nobody has technically seen his face. Nor have they seen him with hair. He's practically a fresh face, with the history, prior experience and love of this universe to make him an asset as a fight coordinator or a new lead role. Hopefully J.J. Abrams will think as highly of Park as Park does of him. Then maybe we will get the fulfillment we wanted when Darth Maul was introduced and taken out of our lives
And yes. If you couldn't tell. I'm a huge fan. I've met him in person and he was more genuine than I could of ever imagined.
Comment your thoughts! Does Ray Park deserve to be a part of the new legacy?