Actor Ray Park talks to StarWars.com (via The Star Wars Insider), about his experiences since playing Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Mence, and the work that went into playing Snake Eyes for G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra.
How did you get the role of Snake Eyes in G.I.JOE: The Rise of Cobra?
I heard they were making the movie, and I made a few calls and was about to make my own demo reel, like Elijah Wood did for The Lord of the Rings. I had all of my gear ready, and greenscreen, and I did a storyboard, but then I got a call from a casting director for a top secret project. He wouldn't say what it was, but asked me to come down and meet with director Stephen Sommers.
Before the audition, I was in Indianapolis at a convention. I researched the character and I didn't really eat and didn't really speak to many people for four days. I trained three hours in the morning before the show and then again after signing for a couple hours, and I just became Snake Eyes. When I got off the plane on that Monday morning at 9 AM, I went straight to the audition with my gear and I just nailed it -- the best audition I've ever done in my life.
How familiar were you with G.I.JOE and the character of Snake Eyes?
I knew about Snake Eyes but not as much as I did once I began researching him. I knew what I knew as a kid, but before auditioning I did a lot of research and played that into my audition. When I was a kid, my dad got me Action Man. Then when I was about eight, my brother got Action Force -- the smaller scale, and which was what G.I.JOE was called in the UK. I grew up with it, and I love the white ninja Storm Shadow. He and Snake Eyes are my favorites.
What was it like playing Snake Eyes? Was it more difficult than playing Darth Maul?
It was fun! For me it was a dream come true and hard work -- a lot of work. The thing that made it hard for me was the suit. Once the suit was on, it was very tight on my body. It was foam latex rubber and didn't hurt when I had a rough landing, but I couldn't turn my neck -- it was like a rubber band around my neck. To do a butterfly twist, I was thinking, "How am I going to do this!?" My spatial awareness wasn't nearly as great as I wanted it to be with the hood and visor on, and I could hardly see, not to mention the breathing aspect of it. It got to a point where I was meditating every time I put that suit on.
We were in some hot, confined spaces at times, and I couldn't talk to anyone -- and it wasn't because I had nothing to say to cast members, but because I had to concentrate on not freaking out inside the suit. I had to psyche myself up, but I got used to it, and before I knew it, it was part of the gig. But I lost about ten pounds every couple of days because it was such a hot suit. I'd take the suit off and I was so lean, then I'd go home and eat and eat and eat, and the next day I'd have a belly, but at the end of the day, it would be gone.
When I look at Christian Bale in Batman or Ron Perlman in Hellboy, I really sympathize with what they do. But I'd do it again a million times over -- I didn't feel like Snake Eyes if I didn't have the suit on.