Actor and fan Sam Witwer returns to "Star Wars: The Clone Wars " this Friday to voice the vengeful Darth Maul. He portrayed the Son in the acclaimed "Mortis" trilogy of the TV hit series. Besides that significant role, he also voiced Darth Vader's secret apprentice Starkiller for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Apprentice in Soul Caliber IV.
I had the opportunity to talk to Witwer about seeing his character, Darth Maul, in the 3D release of "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" and meeting Ray Park, the original actor behind the villain.
What did you think of "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" in 3D?
I loved the subtlety of the 3D. What I mean by subtlety is that no one was trying to poke my eyes out. There weren't things flying out of the screen hitting me in the face. I prefer when you're just looking through a window and it happens to be three dimensional through that.
I thought it was a really smart and good conversion in terms of the 3D and the visual quality. I can't wait to see the rest of the movies like that. It was really the best screening of that film I've ever seen. I swear they went back in and mixed the sound again because there were a lot of enhancements. I don't remember the movie being that dynamic in terms of the soft parts being soft and the loud parts being deafening. It was a really good mix.
There are definitely sound effects on the Blu-ray that weren't in the theatrical cut. I'm completely aware of it. I'm a musician so I listen very carefully and I know there have been changes. It sounded amazing. It never sounded quite that good. That movie sounded great to begin with so that was a real treat.
Isn't it great how they orchestrated the release of "Episode I" in 3D with the return of Darth Maul on "The Clone Wars"? Not only is your character's face plastered all over the Internet and Cartoon Network for his return, but it's also all over billboards and TV commercials on major networks for "The Phantom Menace" at the same time. What do you think of that?
I don't mind that. Talk to me about how [great it is] they're doing it while my show ["Being Human"] is airing as well. It's all ridiculously gratuitous for me. [Laughing]
Have you met the original Darth Maul, Ray Park, before?
I've met Ray Park three times. The first time I wasn't an actor yet. I was in Chicago and I went to a theater called the Old Orchard. It was in Skokie outside of Glenview where I grew up. It was opening night of "The Phantom Menace" and that afternoon Ray was there signing autographs. No one knew who he was because no one had seen the film yet. He was there to promote the movie, but no one quite knew who Darth Maul was yet. My friends and I went to a sneak preview the night before so we were the only ones who got it. We were like, "That's Darth Maul! He's the coolest villain we've seen in years!" People really didn't understand. He was so nice, humble, and cool. He wanted to make sure we liked the performance and all that.
I met him again 10 years later right around the corner from my house here in Los Angeles. He was at this Mexican restaurant. I'm looking at the menu and taking my time. This guy steps in front of me and orders because I wasn't ready. He turns around and says, "I'm sorry. I stepped in front of you in line." It's Ray Park. I'm like, "No, go ahead. Order." I explained, "I'm a 'Star Wars' character, too." I don't know if he understood or if he hadn't played The Force Unleashed and didn't know what I was talking about. A week later we were both signing autographs at a convention. I was like, "Yeah, I was serious about that. I wasn't just some fan that made something up." [Laughing] I met him three times and he was really great.
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Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Kenneth Branagh, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.
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