Sam Witwer Said Lucasfilm Was "Making a Mistake" With 'Solo' Darth Maul Casting

When asked to name some of the most memorable moments in Star Wars, what comes to mind? 

Some might say the "I am your father" confrontation between Luke and Vader in The Empire Strikes Back; others might say the moment Rey first wields the lightsaber in the forest in The Force Awakens. However, when I think of iconic Star Wars moments, I am often reminded of one of the greatest villain entrances ever: Darth Maul's first appearance in The Phantom Menace, that double-bladed lightsaber, and John Williams' "Duel of the Fates" swelling on the score.

Maul's popularity has only continued to grow, as he has appeared numerous times in the franchise, such as in The Clone Wars animated and, most unexpectedly, in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The cameo in Solo came as a huge delight to fans of the character, and just as exciting was the fact that Sam Witwer, Maul's voice actor from The Clone Wars, voiced him in Solo, too.

However, Witwer almost was not the voice of Maul in Solo.

In an interview with Star Wars Holocron Blog, Witwer was candid about the fact that, originally, Peter Serafinowicz, who voiced Maul in The Phantom Menace, originally voiced Maul for Solo. Witwer revealed: 
"[Peter] Serafinowicz has even said that he recorded stuff for Maul and it didn't quite work the way they thought it would." 
 Witwer theorized that someone at Lucasfilm most likely suggested Serafinowicz's casting because of his work on The Phantom Menace, but that it was not necessarily the right choice for the character. After all, Maul essentially dies in that movie, and Maul's more recent appearances in The Clone Wars were with Witwer's voice acting. With Witwer voicing Maul in Solo, at least they could appeal to fans who would recognize him from the animated television show, creating a storytelling link between The Clone Wars and Solo. Witwer said:
"Since you're leaning on the fans who understand what the Shadow Collective is, and the way you want to construct the scene where you want to hear his voice and then see him, doesn't that serve to reason that the fans have to recognize the voice? It's probably got to be me, and not to mention I've been playing the guy for a decade."
Not only did Witwer advocate for his own casting, but he also made strong suggestions about the writing of the character, too. In the original script that Witwer read, Maul's characterization was very different, such as the fact that there was growling written into his dialogue. Witwer said he "put his foot down," and told Lucasfilm they were "making a mistake" if they didn't cast him and lean on his script input.

The fact that Witwer helped develop Maul under the guidance of both George Lucas and The Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni spoke to his expertise, and after many individuals from Lucasfilm supported his campaign for the role, he was finally cast in the part. 

This led to reshoots, as Ron Howard was made aware of issues with Maul's characterization, and they had to adjust the character to better fit Witwer's voice performance. However, Witwer emphasized that he was not attempting to bash or overly criticize the Solo creators, and that in the end, the cameo turned out just the way it was supposed to be. Witwer explained:
"People like me and Dave Filoni were letting them know there were a lot of details that weren't consistent. That's not me saying these people didn't know what they were doing, because they were making a movie and doing it at lightspeed."
However rocky some elements of the process might have been, Maul's cameo in Solo: A Star Wars Story, especially with Witwer voicing the character once again, was a memorable, exciting moment, and one of the best surprises in recent Star Wars history. While The Clone Wars is over, perhaps Witwer can return to the role once again, seeing as how he has become the definitive voice of Maul in the eyes of many fans.

Source(s): Cheat Sheet