Ray Park’s Saturday afternoon Q&A was anything but standard – the Q and the A part were there, but as it went on, Park kept pumping up the octane and the energy more and more. I was frankly wrong to expect anything less. This included everything from running and jumping around the stage and in the audience, to blocking punches from the panel moderator, and dodging lightsaber swings of a fan in a Ray cosplay. All of this made for one the most exhausting – in a good way – panels I’ve been to at one of these conventions.
It started with Park talking in detail about his start into action filmmaking; in short, his dad got him into martial arts and he was really inspired by the movie The 36th Chamber of the Shaolin, which he considers his all-time favorite.
But of course, because this is a comic convention, everyone just wanted to know about Darth Maul. And boy, did he talk about Darth Maul. When someone asked how the shape of Maul’s lightsaber came to be, he told a long, detailed story about his disagreements with George Lucas on the handle shape, length, and even the shade of red that it eventually turned out to be. He says to this day there’s a debate over who can be officially credited with the design, but according to Park, Lucas eventually went with Park’s desired look.
Apparently, there was also another debate that took place over how Maul should be killed. According to Park, George Lucas originally wanted Darth Maul to decapitated and while Park thought that was fine, it his idea to sever to torso instead to get the film the PG-rated it eventually received. Ray does claim that this original decapitation was indeed filmed, but to my knowledge, it’s not available to see anywhere. He also mentioned that the make-up for the character took three hours and was hand-painted every day.
When recalls when Lucas told him when he first got the role that Darth Maul was a “distinguished gentlemen who also happens to me a martial arts expert.” On the subject of the character’s staying power, he says that he didn’t really appreciated the character and the role he had in the film until years later when Maul, and Stars Wars itself, remained a staple of pop culture.
And it also wasn’t long until someone asked the inevitable: Will he ever return as Darth Maul? His answer was simple and straightforward: As of now, he has not heard from anyone at Lucasfilm about doing so, but he would absolutely love to, and he would very, very mad if they ever decided to bring the character back played by somebody else.
He mentioned a number of things he wants to do, in fact. He went on for several minutes about how much he adores and would love to be a part of the Fast & Furious franchise, and when somebody in the audience mentioned that there’s currently plans in place to do an American remake of the wildly successful Indonesian martial arts film The Raid, Park said he would love for it to star him and Scott Adkins, with whom he is apparently very good friends.
Given how much Park says he insists on his own stunts, and really, really doesn’t like when he’s replaced by a double, I don’t think there’s anyone in the audience that would object to either of those things.