Despite most of The Phantom Menace being a bit rubbish, it’s generally agreed that the climactic lightsaber battle between Qui Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul is one of the best in the franchise. That’s partially down to John Williams’ kickass “Duel of the Fates” score, but a huge chunk of why it works so well is down to the choreography and skill of the actors.
Liam Neeson was already familiar with a sword from his work in Rob Roy and Ray Park is an insanely talented martial artist and stuntman. So, when Maul unexpectedly returned in Solo: A Star Wars Story, fans were a little disappointed that all he did was sit in a chair and look a bit grumpy.
But that might not have been the original plan for the character. At least, if I’m reading this Instagram post by Park correctly:
“I worked my butt off to play Maul in Solo even though I knew I had no action to do. I do take my character very SERIOUSLY. Seen a few fatty comments out there. Lol. Which I find very funny as hell. I really don’t care. I know there are a few people that have no clue what I do, or how it works. Please remember I was 22 on Ep1 training 15hrs a day. For Solo I was getting a good 3-4 hours in of training with a serious hip injury, I had been suffering from for a few years which prevented me from doing a lot of what I love with my workouts. And…. the makeup had a different aged effect and purpose which I’m not going into.”
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Perhaps it was just to shift a bit of weight and get Maul looking as dangerous as he did in The Phantom Menace, but Park training for three hours every day in advance of playing the character seems to hint that he thought there might be a chance he could’ve been taking on a more physical role in Solo.
After all, we just recently saw the full body production shots of Maul that included his prosthetic robot lower half. It looks like a pretty well-designed effect, too, which begs the question of why would they put that much effort into it if we’re never going to see it.
I reckon Park thought there was a decent chance that the Maul cameo could be expanded a little into a more substantial part, perhaps physically arriving at the end of the movie rather than merely appearing as a holographic projection. While Solo being a financial disappointment might put the brakes on this particular branch of the Star Wars universe, it’d still be nice to see him return in a more dangerous and visceral way, perhaps along the lines that we theorized just a couple of days ago.