• Mattie Stu

Star Wars Where Are They Now? #5 – Ray Park

Before landing the role of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Raymond Park made a name for himself in the world of martial arts. He was introduced to the combat sport by his father, whose love of Bruce Lee films lit a fire in the youngster that would never extinguish. In 1991, after studying a wide array of martial arts, Ray joined the Great Britain Wushu team, and in 1995, he came in second place at the World Wushu Championships. But despite all of his successes in martial arts, Park chose to train himself in gymnastics, which led to his first ever film role. In 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Ray worked as a stunt double and even made some cameos as monsters, including Baraka. From that point onwards, his love for the silver screen only continued to grow. After learning as much as he could about the process of filmmaking, which helped him become more natural on set, Park landed the role of Darth Maul, as well as the creative freedom to develop his choreography after impressing George Lucas. Despite only having one line of dialogue in the entire film, which was dubbed over by Peter Serafinowicz, Ray blew audiences away with his athleticism and agility. But what other projects has the Scottish born actor moved on to since his days as Darth Maul? Well, let’s find out!

Although Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was largely disappointing, there’s one thing that fans can agree worked: Darth Maul. The mysterious Sith apprentice became an instant sensation, and was excellently portrayed by Ray, especially in the movie’s climactic lightsaber duel. The performance helped Park land the role of the athletic villain Toad in X-Men, where he briefly wielded a metal pole, similar to Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber. Ever since landing his first ever real speaking part, Ray has appeared in nine TV shows and eleven movies, including G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. And as of 2016, he is working on another two movies, those being R.A.M. and Future Fighters. However, Park’s arguably most personal role came in 2010 when he acted in The Legend of Bruce Lee. At that point, Ray’s career came in full circle: it was Bruce Lee who inspired Ray to pursue martial arts, and his following acting career led him to honouring the man’s memory. It’s also worth mentioning that in The Legend of Bruce Lee, Park played Chuck Norris, that’s right… Chuck Norris!

Although Ray has found success away from the galaxy far, far away, he has never ruled out a return to the Star Wars saga, and has actually voiced his hope to return as Maul in a standalone movie:

“I've said that I would play anything to do with 'Star Wars.' But really, deep down, I would love to come back as Darth Maul - that's what I want to do. I would go crazy, go mental, lock myself in a cabin, you know. Do the whole 'method' for two or three months, spear-fishing and stuff, just to play the character again.”

Now that Disney own the rights to Star Wars and plan to make spin-off solo films on specific characters, a standalone Maul film is not beyond the realms of possibility. Aside from series greats such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett, Maul is the coolest, most badass and yet mysterious Star Wars character, meaning the opportunity to explore his backstory or to just witness him slay some Jedi would be incredibly epic! While Ray doesn’t need to return to the Star Wars galaxy, it would be awesome to seem him don the face paint and black robes one last time.

So, what do you think of Ray Park’s performance as Maul in The Phantom Menace? And would like to see him feature once more as the Sith assassin? Let me know in the comments below, as well as who you would like to see covered next in this series.

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