Witwer was there when Maul was revealed to still be alive (crazy and cut in half, but alive) in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, giving voice to the former Sith and strengthening his character in ways we'd never imagined.
When Maul unexpectedly re-entered our lives once again in Star Wars Rebels, Witwer was there to provide the voice behind the revenge-minded Zabrak.
And when it came time for Maul to make his most unexpected appearance yet, at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, it made perfect sense for Witwer to return once more. Ray Park (the original live-action Maul) was coming back, so this was the perfect chance to meld what Witwer had done in animation with the live-action work that Park did so well back in 1999.
Now, in a new interview with Slashfilm, Witwer talks about how he worked with Park to bring the character back to live action, as well as what his Maul-ificent future might hold. Whereas Maul's voice was dubbed in later for Phantom Menace (just like James Earl Jones' iconic tones were dubbed in for Darth Vader), the Solo gang did things a little differently.
Witwer actually recorded his lines first, and Park lip-synched to them when performing the role on set. Witwer then returned to record again, as he says, "because Ray needed to have some freedom with what he was doing. My track was there as a guide." The main concern was to marry the voice of the actor who had been doing so many dialogue scenes as the character with the man who physically embodies him in live-action. According to Witwer, "both actors have to have the ability to do what they think should be done with the character."
Witwer and Park had time to get in the same hyperspace lane when it came to the ins and outs of the former Sith, with Witwer saying that Park had "studied up" and watched all of the animated appearances of Maul — this was partially because Ron Howard (as well as screenwriters Laurence Kasdan and Jake Kasdan) thought it was important. All parties wanted what Witwer calls, "a seamless transition from animated to live action." The effort paid off, with Witwer going on to say, "That it feels like exactly the same character, and the trajectory of the character and the evolution of the character, that this could be dropped in and no one who enjoys Rebels or The Clone Wars, like, it wouldn’t jar them at all."
It was the live-action Maul we all know and love, but complete with the voice and character growth from all of his years growing in animation. Witwer definitely wanted devotees of the animated shows to feel like it was the same guy, and he believes it worked. As he says, "...when I returned to voice what Ray had shot, um, boy I felt like that was the same character."
The big question now, of course, is can we expect to hear Witwer once more as Maul? Not only is Star Wars: The Clone Wars taking a cue from Maul's book and making a very unexpected return, but it most likely will feature the long-awaited "Siege of Mandalore" arc. Maul would be a big player in that story — will Witwer be back?
"Oh, I surely couldn’t guess and if I did know, I surely couldn’t say," Witwer says, but he does go on to say, "...what I will say is that I’ve publicly said goodbye to this character on a few separate occasions. But I think I’ve learned to not say goodbye to this guy and whatever happens happens. The audience doesn’t seem to want to let this guy go and, to be honest, neither do I."
He goes on to talk about the experience of filling out all of the little unknown corners of this character's life, remarking on how unique an opportunity that is. "It’s further unique to flesh out this man’s story from beginning to end through The Phantom Menace, then The Clone Wars, then Solo, then Rebels. Possibly back to The Clone Wars," says Witwer.
Not only does he have the gift that full-on refuses to die (for the most part) in Maul, but Witwer now has a simmering bromance with Ray Park. He is certain to thank him, and also adds that he's "having a lot of fun." That much is very clear. Here's hoping that we will get to hear Witwer again when The Clone Wars returns (we'd bet on it), and here's hoping even further that we'll get to see the Park/Witwer partnership in live-action once more.