July 12, 2000
When we were on set at the X-Men set in Toronto, we got a chance to meet about half the cast of the movie. Even people like Ray Park, who wasn't working but showed up to give us some words on what it's like working on Magneto's side of the mutant world. This is Ray's big break: he gets to have his own face (plus a few warts) on the screen -- something he didn't get as the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow. And he even gets to use his own voice -- something he didn't get when George Lucas dubbed Ray during his Darth Maul days in Star Wars: Episode One. Ray even gets a very long tongue in the X-Men movie. Think of it as karmic compensation for his previous faceless, voiceless roles.
Ray is a small guy. A nice guy. A soft-spoken guy. If you didn't know he was Darth Maul (dubbed with another actor's voice, no less), you might forget that this man could probably jump over the table, crack your vertebrae and return to his seat before you finished asking that stupid question. Luckily for us, he's nice and we were careful not to ask stupid questions.
IGN Movies: So who is Toad in the movie?
Ray: Toad is one of Magneto's henchmen, one of the bad guys, one of the guys from the Brotherhood. Toad is more of a toadie. A greenie. He's got superhuman powers where he can jump, leap and bound -- that's where he gets his name, "Toad." I never knew there was a character called Toad, when I was a kid. He's a lackey, in a way. But I think it's different in the movie [than the comics].
IGN Movies: How does Toad work with Magneto in this flick?
Ray: It's more like going out and doing Magneto's work without him lifting a hand. I'm creating havoc in a way, and sometimes maybe mucking things up. As a character, without the action stuff, I like coming up with, playing with new stuff. I would be able to do icky and silly things, and it works for the character because it's Toad.
IGN Movies: Did you research Toad?
Ray: I tried to get as much background on the characters I could, but I think [director Bryan Singer was] keeping it open to try something a little bit different -- not so much based on the comics but still in the same lines; you know, but different in a way. So it's a very good opportunity for me to try and develop the character and make him into a character of his own.
Toad has to be hard in a way, where he's evil; but also be funny and geeky, slimy, creepy-looking. It's fun putting all those aspects into it -- which I hope I've achieved. I'm still doing it now, still practicing, but everyone seems to be pretty pleased by it.
IGN Movies: What about Toad's tongue?
Ray: Toad has a long tongue. It's about six foot. It does grow [to 15 feet long]. And it's green and slimy and gooey.
IGN Movies: That's a little different from the hunched-over Toad we know from the comics.
Ray: It's good, because it gives Toad a little bit more versatility and not just an ability like fighting and acrobatics. Also I use the tongue for different things -- as a gimmick or a gag. But it's funny as well, and it's pretty cool.
IGN Movies: Who or what do you tongue?
Ray: You just have to wait and see.
IGN Movies: Is the tongue prosthetic or CG?
Ray: Combination. [For the prosthetic] I had to put this mouthpiece in my mouth.
IGN Movies: You just stuff it in your mouth?
Ray: They made a mold of my mouth. It's like a bite gag, really.
IGN Movies: Everyone in the movie seems to have a big action scene. Who is Toad's confrontation with?
Ray: Everyone. The earth, the sky, the wolves, the tables -
IGN Movies: What kind of effects do they use to get Toad bouncing off the walls?
Ray: Just from my own ability and using wire work and different camera angles. Depending on how the fight's written and what different things I'm doing.
IGN Movies: Trampolines? Ramps?
Ray: I haven't used any at the moment.
IGN Movies: How high can you jump?
Ray: As Toad, more than an average person. If he wanted to, he could jump over you. But not unbelievably that you think, "That looks unreal." It's got to be believable. He's still human, but he's a mutant human. In other words, he's putting out just a little bit more than an average person.
[As myself, ] when I was in competition training, I used to jump over head-high. It depends, on a good day or not. I wouldn't say I'm Superman.
IGN Movies: Were your Toad stunts dangerous?
Ray: I think they're risky for anyone, because there's always an aspect of danger there. But for me, I don't see that, because I like doing it. [I have] martial art training, and even as a kid, I used to bounce about and climb up buildings and stuff. It's just when you get older, you start thinking you can hurt yourself. But it's good to be able to do it as part of your job, because you're doing something you love. I love doing this. This is what I've always wanted to be. So to put my training into doing my work is an extra bonus.
IGN Movies: We heard that you wanted to out-do your Darth Maul and Headless Horseman work in this pic. Do you think you've done that?
Ray: I don't know if I have yet. I always like to be better. People are always going to judge me from my doing Star Wars. Because it was such a big impact, that character. So I want to try not to be too stressed out about it, just enjoy it and try and do better, every time. The next movie I do, I'll want to do better. We'll soon find out. You can be the judge of that.
IGN Movies: Has George Lucas called about Episode II? What have you heard about that?
Ray: Nothing, really. But he always keeps everything tight until the last minute.
IGN Movies: How does it feel to be an action figure?
Ray: It still feels weird. I subtract that and just say, "That's not me; that was the character I played. If I wasn't in it, it would have been different for me. I don't know if I'd be caught up in the Darth Maul [fever]. It's when you see everyone else. I'd be walking down the road and there would be kids wearing Darth Maul things and they'd just be playing it out. And it's just so cool. Because when I was a kid, I wanted to be a superhuman, superhero.
IGN Movies: Do you have the action figures of your characters?
Ray: I have a Darth Maul one. And I've got a Sleepy Hollow one.
IGN Movies: And soon there will be a Toad one.
Ray: Most probably yeah. So I'll have three of them on my TV. It's a bit vain, but -
IGN Movies: No, it'll be so cool.
Ray: Yeah, I'll start playing [with them].