One of the really cool surprises in Solo: A Star Wars Story was the appearance of Maul, a character once thought dead in The Phantom Menace who returned to prominence in The Clone Wars and Rebels.
In Solo, Maul is revealed to be the crime boss leading Crimson Dawn, for whom Dryden Vos and Qi’ra have been working. He appears in just one scene via hologram, speaking with Qi’ra after Vos’s death. But it was enough to make a notable and memorable impact. It was one of those really cool cameo appearances that makes Star Wars feel so interconnected. But we have Dave Filoni and Sam Witwer to thank for how it actually turned out.
In a recent interview with SW Holocron Blog, Witwer explained how things went down with that cameo in Solo. You can read his extended comments here. Basically, the film originally brought back Peter Serafinowicz, who had voiced Maul in The Phantom Menace, to voice the character in Solo. But according to Witwer it didn’t work as well as they had been hoping, and there were things like growls and the like that made it feel different. So Witwer put his foot down and insisted they allow him to do the voice, since the show would be counting on the fans famliar with TCW to understand how Maul was back. There were others in the building who pushed for Witwer as well, and basically those voices made it clear that Dave Filoni and Sam Witwer needed to be on board.
Witwer explains that Ron Howard was happy to bring in Witwer once he understood The Clone Wars and George Lucas’s role in it, and then Witwer and Filoni pushed to have the scene re-shot to make it more consistent with other material.
So I guess we should be quite thankful to Dave Filoni and Sam Witwer for pushing to make sure the Maul cameo in Solo both made sense and was well-done. With all due respect to Serafinowicz, Sam Witwer has become the definitive voice for Maul; the character had few lines in The Phantom Menace, but has had plenty of lines between The Clone Wars and Rebels. As such Witwer’s voice has become much more recognizable, and he has brought such depth and emotion to the character. He’s been terrific.
It’s a bit crazy to hear how long the process took before finally turning to Witwer for this role, but I’m glad that in the end they made the right call.