Note: This article contains plot spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Although it reserves its harshest spews of warmed-over bantha poodoo for any woman who musters the temerity to pass across the franchise’s multi-billion-dollar screens, the Star Wars fandom is a pretty harsh place for anyone to expose any part of themselves. Phantom Menace survivors Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best have both talked about the ways that being exposed to that much pure, unadulterated Dark Side fucked up their lives, and now their old Episode I co-star Ray Park has apparently got a taste of it himself.
Park recently appeared in a surprise cameo near the end of this summer’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, revealing (for people who aren’t caught up on the cartoons, anyway) that retired Sith apprentice Darth Maul not only survived his run-in with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Naboo, but has also taken up a side gig as a Paul Bettany-bossing crime lord. The actor fired back at internet critics accusing him of having let himself go in the intervening years, prompted by a recent photo set of his character in all his robot-legged glory. To be clear, this is what “getting fat” looks like to the paragons of health in the toxic Star Wars community:
Park—who shares duties on the character with voice actor Sam Witwer—seemed especially annoyed that “fans” of the franchise were criticizing him just because the three to four hours of training he was doing each day (for what was essentially a seated cameo in Solo) apparently weren’t enough to meet their exacting standards, compared to the ludicrous 15 hours per day he did when he played the character when he was 22. (Amazingly enough, the martial artist managed to do so without inviting any Maul “admirers” to come see how over the hill he was in person, which is more Jedi than we could probably manage.)
Solo was pretty clearly setting up Maul as some sort of large-scale antagonist for the heroes of a possible mini-franchise of character-focused spin-off films (like that frequently threatened Obi-Wan movie). It’s not clear yet what Disney’s recent decision to step back its more ambitious plans for the series will mean for the character’s fate, but Park looks ready to handle it, whatever it ends up being.