But the fans didn’t kill him. In fact, Maul’s arc became one of the many highlights of The Clone Wars. Filoni called upon Witwer yet again for Star Wars Rebels, but even after Maul’s demise, Witwer wasn’t done with the iconic role. “We killed Maul off in Rebels, so by this point I’d said goodbye to the character twice. Fast forward and Matt Wood [of Skywalker Sound] calls me up; he’s doing sound and mixing on Solo, so he’s been working with the Kasdans [Lawrence and Jon] and [Ron] Howard for a while. He says ‘Oh how’s it going man? So, anyway you know Maul’s in the movie…’ and I was like ‘What do you mean? So you know Maul’s in the movie? No! What does this mean?!‘ and he was like ‘Yeah, he’s in the movie. Should we give you a call? Are you interested?’ Of course, Matt Wood voiced General Grievous so he knew exactly how much it meant to me, he’s been there. He had a lot of fun teasing me with that.”
When it came to portraying Maul in the film, Witwer thought he had the process all figured out. But Lucasfilm and Howard had different plans. “The thing that shocked me the most was I thought they’d shoot things with Ray Park and I’d come in and voice it. Obviously we do things a little bit differently with the animated series; we voice it first and they animate it, so I have a bit more freedom of performance. But that’s fine because Ray is the guy who started this, he’s the presence, he’s the reason why we’re here! Then I discovered Ron Howard and the Kasdans really felt it was very important that this feel seamless from Rebels and The Clone Wars, and to feel like it was exactly the same character and honor the work George Lucas had done.”
Witwer continued, “I was very surprised when I went in and I was expecting to do it to some picture, and they were like ‘No, just record. Do it at your pace, your tone.’ And I was like ‘How is this going to work?’ and it turned out that Ray was going to lip sync. ‘When he’s shooting Ray will have the freedom to do what he needs to do,’ they told me. ‘Then we’re going to have you back in, so that both of you are going to have input into who this character gets to be.’ Which I thought was brilliant!”
Are you excited to revisit Solo from the comfort of your own couch? Intrigued by Witwer’s account of how Solo’s Maul came to life? Fire your blasters into the comments below!