It's true — the origins of the most evil alien Hollywood has unleashed in light years are to be found in Scotland's West Coast metropolis. The man behind the red devil mask of The Phantom Menace's villain is RAY PARK and he was born in Glasgow 24 years ago. Words: Miles Fielder
The original Stars Wars film was a melting pot of myths drawn from various sources: fairytales. medieval epics. and westerns. What it came down to was the eternal battle between good and evil. but audiences' interpretations varied. For some. it was a domestic conflict between a father and son: for others. it was a heroic war against an oppressive empire; for others still. it was a spiritual odyssey. It‘s this and not merely the groundbreaking special effects that accounts for the enduring. worldwide popularity of the film and its sequels.
In that spirit. The List would like to advance a new theory about Stars Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace — the fate of the universe comes down to two Scottish guys having a square go. In the blue corner. representing the light side of The Force: Obi- Wan Kenobi. aka Ewan McGregor. born in Crieff. In the red corner. embodying the dark side: Darth Maul. aka Glasgow-born Ray Park.
Like David Prowse as Darth Vader. Park is virtually unrecognisable beneath make-up and with his voice dubbed over by another actor. So who is the man behind the mask? It’s hard to equate The Phantom Menaee’s martial arts-
easy-going. softly spoken and a little shy. And he has a southern English accent. ‘I lost my Scots accent when I was a kid.‘ he explains. ‘My dad was working in London and so we moved there when I was seven. I was bullied at school because of my accent and because I was small. That‘s when I started doing martial arts.‘
Park has trained in Malaysia with a master of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu for four-to-five months of each year since he was sixteen. His preferred fighting style is Wushu. and he lives for his art. Carefully. proudly and authoritatively. he explains that Wushu is a cross between Peking Opera and gymnastics. ‘Martial arts were banned in China under Mao Tse Tung's regime. so the people made it into a sport.‘ he says. ‘Every day kids in school did martial arts. Every Saturday night there would be a Wushu competition on television — it was entertainment and that‘s how it became ﬂashier. more dynamic.‘
Park traces the history of his own involvement with martial arts back beyond being pummelled in the school playground to watching videos in Glasgow. ‘When I was about three. I knew I wanted to be into martial arts and do movies,‘ he recalls. “I used to
wielding villain with the real thing; Park is watch the movies at home because my dad >
8—22 Jul 1999 THE lI8T13