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SYFY WIRE obi-wan kenobi

'Obi-Wan Kenobi' series reportedly almost featured return of 'Phantom Menace' baddie Darth Maul

Ray Park, who played the character in Episode I, would have reprised the role.

By Josh Weiss
Darth Maul The Phantom Menace

Remember when production on the Obi-Wan Kenobi television project hit a snag in 2020 and Lucasfilm decided to scrap its existing scripts and hire new writers? While Ewan McGregor (who is back to play the in-exile Jedi Knight) ultimately downplayed the severity of that particular development, a new report suggests the overhaul was a lot more extensive than we originally thought.

According to some fresh intel from The Hollywood Reporter, the hotly-anticipated series, which arrives on Disney+ at the end of May, was originally supposed to feature the return of Ray Park as Palpatine's erstwhile Sith apprentice, Darth Maul. The iconic and fan favorite villain, who made his Star Wars debut in 1999's The Phantom Menace, was ultimately axed in favor of Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) and the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend).

The decision was allegedly the result of potential overlap with The Mandalorian. You see, Obi-Wan Kenobi was allegedly going to be about the titular Jedi Master protecting a young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine from the nefarious machinations of Maul.

Since this premise was just a little too similar to that of Din Djarin and Grogu/Baby Yoda, the entire storyline was reportedly abandoned. THR notes that an unnamed actor had been on board to play young Luke, but never ended up shooting any scenes and did not remain attached through the current iteration. When the show does arrive on May 25, the future torch-bearer of the Jedi creed will be played by relative newcomer, Grant Feely (Creepshow).

When it comes to Park, there are contradictory claims. One source alleged the actor was involved with pre-production and even began stunt training, while another individual completely denied that Maul was ever a part of the scripts. If the character was indeed set to come back at one point, though, it's unclear if Lucasfilm intended to bring in Peter Serafinowicz (The Tick), who dubbed Maul's lines of dialogue in The Phantom Menace.

Despite his bisected defeat at the hands of Obi-Wan during the climax of Episode I, Maul eventually resurfaced by way of Filoni's animated Clone Wars project (where he was voiced by Sam Witwer) as a major figure in the galaxy's criminal underworld. After nearly two decades, the beloved antagonist made his live-action return in Solo: A Star Wars Story (played by Park and voiced by Witwer).

Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy recently opened up about losing original writer, Hossein Amini (Drive), during a conversation with Entertainment Weekly. Based on her comments, it sounds like the initial story was a bit bleaker than what the company was looking for. In the end, Joby Harold (Army of the Dead) was brought on as Amini's replacement. 

"We're looking, ultimately, to make a hopeful, uplifting story," Kennedy explained. "And it's tricky when you're starting with a character in the state that Obi-Wan would be in coming off of Revenge of the Sith. That's a pretty bleak period of time. You can't just wave the magic wand with any writer and arrive at a story that necessarily reflects what you want to feel."

Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres on Disney+ Wednesday, May 25. Mandalorian vet Deborah Chow directed all six episodes.