Photo by Luigi Novi
Ray Park is ready for another fight, and more weapons, please. That’s the message the Scottish actor and martial artist -- best known for his roles as Toad in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men,” Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I” and Snake Eyes in the live-action “G.I. Joe” movies -- delivered at Wizard World NYC this past weekend.
Park grew up a diehard Bruce Lee fan, and joked on his Wizard World panel last Friday that he had posters of Lee on his walls when his friends had pictures of bikini-clad women. He said that admiration for Lee inspired him to learn kung fu, wushu and kickboxing, which led to becoming a professional martial arts competitor and, later, a stunt double and actor. But the 38-year-old was a product of the late '70s and early '80s pop culture, and loved “Star Wars” and the ninjas from G.I. Joe (specifically Storm Shadow).
Now he has become a recognized name on the comic convention scene, along with being a go-to badass in film, but remains a nerdy guy enthusiastic to play more in the worlds of ninjas, super heroes and Jedi.
And he is likely to get a chance on one of those fronts; Park portrayed fan-favorite Snake Eyes for the second time in the March sequel “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” The movie performed solidly, and word spread that a third installment was on the way with director John M. Chu likely returning.
Although this was news to Park, who learned about the third movie from this reporter who moderated that aforementioned Wizard World panel.
Photo by Luigi Novi
“You told me about it!” He said. “Now I’m sitting here all day today going, ‘please ask me back for the third one, I really hope they ask me back’.”
Park said “nothing’s ever safe” or guaranteed in the movie business, but if he is able to return, he wants to showcase Snake Eyes with two swords, like the action figure. Also on his list of wants for Snake: a motor bike and Timber, his trusty wolf sidekick.
But the martial artist said he trusts Chu’s vision completely because “he played with G.I. Joes and he knows G.I. Joes.”
Regarding another character he’s known for, Park said he’s ready to return to the Star Wars universe now that Darth Maul is no longer half a man. He said he’s really liked the Sith Lord’s resurrection accomplished by Sam Witwer and Dave Filoni in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series.
And should J.J. Abrams wish to bring him back for another live-action episode?
“Just give me food and water, and I’m there,” he said.
And he wants to return “with something a little bit spicy,” such as two double-bladed lightsabers to bring a meaner, badder Maul. Park hasn’t been approached by anyone about the new movies, but said he’d like to go shirtless and show off more of the character’s Nightbrother clan tattoos.
Park said he not only loves Maul but valued being a part of the Star Wars universe. So much, in fact, that when he first saw Maul in the trailer for “The Phantom Menace” back in the late ’90s – on a lousy dial-up Internet connection, no less – he said he teared up, which he then quickly wiped away before anyone saw him.
From the Wizard World con perspective, Park said the events allow him to connect to fans in an affirming way.
“I really appreciate them,” he said. “I keep plugging away, trying to land more roles and I meet the fans, and I’m a fan too, so it’s important to hear their stories.”
As for his own fandom, Park said he’s become friendly with Lou Ferrigno, which is satisfying because he said he used to worship him as a kid. The Incredible Hulk wasn’t at Wizard World NYC, but Professor X was. Park’s “X-Men” costar Patrick Stewart appeared at the con on Saturday and the erstwhile Toad caught up with him.
“I went and saw Patrick because I love him and respect him a lot,” said Park. “He was saying he just got back [from shooting ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’] and is doing this now.”
“I said, ‘Ah damn, you already filmed it so there’s no way I’m going to be in it!”
Ray Park said the he mainly reminisced with Stewart and asked him about his former Brotherhood of Mutants leader Ian McKellen, and didn’t get any tidbits on the new film.
But even if he did, it is hard to press for details with a guy who is good at playing with two swords and double-lightsabers.