One of the headline guests at Salt Lake Comic Con was stunt actor Ray Park, best known for his roles as Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Toad from the first X-Men film, and more recently as Snake Eyes in the GI Joe films.
Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Park’s childhood idols included actors such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
“I knew as a kid, I wanted to be a stuntman actor,” Park says. “I actually trained myself to fall so that if I did fall, I’d fall very well.”
In addition to training in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, Park also studied gymnastics to complement his martial arts skills, leading him to study actors like Charlie Chaplin.
“Right around 15, the gymnastics school I joined up at, they asked me to play Charlie Chaplin for their gymstrada,” Park says. “A stunt friend of mine gave me a bunch of material to research Chaplin…and I think to this day, it’s actually helped…”
The topic then shifted to his experience playing Snake Eyes and what it was like wearing the iconic costume.
“When I see anyone in heavy prosthetics or heavy costumes, and they have to do their thing, I really have high respect,” Park says. “It’s a challenge, but I love a challenge.”
The panel was opened up for audience questions, covering various topics regarding the enduring popularity of Darth Maul as well as his experience playing Toad in the first X-Men movie.
“I wasn’t really happy about Toad at first,” Park says. “I didn’t want to be in prosthetics and be the hunchback…I had a discussion with Bryan Singer…and he said ‘Ray, this is an opportunity to do something different for a character…and that’s how Toad came about.”
At the end of the event, Park had a group of the children attending the event come to the stage, whereupon he gave them a quick lesson in posing in cool stances, similar to how he teaches children when he’s a guest during the Star Wars Weekends at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.