Though you may recognize his moves, his face has been curiously obscured in nearly every film in which he's appeared. As part of one of the biggest franchises in movie history, martial artist Ray Park was the man behind the ominous, almost demonic red and black makeup of the nefarious Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and for his role in director Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, Park wasn't even given the luxury of a head!
Born August 23, 1975, in Glasgow, Scotland, Park began to nurture a love for martial arts from the age of seven, when his father's love of Bruce Lee films sparked a fire in the youngster's mind that would never extinguish. Specializing in the traditional Chinese Northern Shaolin Kung-fu (in the Chin Woo style) for seven years, Park would move on to master various other styles, most notably Wushu. Soon becoming a regular fixture at martial arts exhibitions and tournaments, the now defined athlete would top Great Britain's martial arts championships before later traveling to Malaysia to refine his skills. Conquering numerous championships worldwide and winning multiple medals, Park realized a personal dream when he competed in the Martial Arts World Championships in 1995. It was during one of Parks' frequent visits to Malaysia that he was approached to audition as a stunt man for 1996's Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Conjuring memories of his youthful cinematic martial arts passion, Park attempted to learn as much as possible about the process of filmmaking. Soon gaining more scenes and becoming more natural on the set, he was later contacted by stunt coordinator Nick Gillard to audition for George Lucas' upcoming Star Wars prequel. Offered the job by producer Rick McCallum, Park was given the creative freedom to develop his choreography by an impressed Lucas, and was soon gaining the confidence to develop his role to the best of his abilities. Later essaying the aforementioned headless horseman in Sleepy Hollow, Park would finally see his face and voice joined on the silver screen (regardless of his moves, his voice was dubbed in Episode 1) with his role as Toad in Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000). After returning for the X-Men sequel in 2002, Park took the lead as the title character in Iron Fist later the same year. Though curious Star Wars fanatics clamored to rumors that Park would return as Darth Maul in the eagerly aniticpated Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, their many speculations were shot down by George Lucas himself with the announcement that although that specific character would not return for the sequel, Park would indeed play a role in Episode II.