Regardless of which you prefer, it’s hard to deny that the Star Wars animated shows have always ranked second tier to the live action films in the eyes of the general public. It therefore came as a real surprise to see a major development in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – that is, the return of Maul – translate to a prominent reveal in the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story. But as unexpected as this moment was for us (and for Ewan McGregor), it may have been an even bigger twist for the man who voices the villain.
After the Sith Lord was presumed dead at the end of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul came back with a vengeance – not to mention a pair of robot legs – in the subsequent TV series, with Sam Witwer providing the voice. But while the space saga has since made a multi-episode return to the big screen, Witwer remained skeptical that his take on the red-faced antagonist would ever be a part of the cinematic branch of the franchise.
“I felt shock and disbelief. I have had fans come up to me over the years and they say things like, ‘Hey, do you think Maul will ever be in a movie and you’ll voice him?’ I would just say, ‘That’s adorable. That’s so sweet. No, of course not. That’s never going to happen, but so cute that you think that that would ever happen.’ Or they’d say things like, ‘Do you think they’ll ever make The Clone Wars again?’ I’d be like, ‘Shh, you’re okay. Go to sleep.’ I would have this slightly, I hate to say it but, condescending thought of, ‘I know how the business works, and the fans don’t, but they have enthusiasm. It’s wonderful that they have this enthusiasm.'”
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Though this speculation may have seemed naïve at the time, Witwer’s role in the Han Solo spinoff movie has caused the voice actor to question whether he still has a thing or two to learn from the fans.
“Now I’m rethinking everything because all these things that the fans have told me were going to happen have happened,” he joked. “I’m like, ‘Okay, maybe I don’t know how the business works. Maybe the fans do, and I need to go back to school and figure out how this all works,’ because this was never supposed to happen. Me as, what, the big bad in the Star Wars movie with Ray Park?”
On that note, it’s worth remembering that the live action Maul is currently a two-man role, but Ray Park seems fully game to bring the character back for future movies. So while the villain’s future in the franchise remains a mystery for now, surely Disney can find some way of following through on the biggest twist of Solo: A Star Wars Story, right?