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Biography #2 (for Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever)

Ray Park may well be the most recognizable actor audiences have never seen. As Sith warrior Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, as the Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and as the nemesis Toad in the popular comic book adaptation X-Men, Park has firmly established himself as a presence in the psyches of American moviegoers.

A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Park took an unorthodox route to Hollywood. As a child, he was introduced to martial arts by his father, a Bruce Lee fan. At age seven he began taking classes, specializing in Northern Shoalin Kung Fu. A natural athlete, he soon mastered that and, by 14, had added Wu Shu and kickboxing to his repertoire. He began to compete in tournaments and, at the age of 16, won Great Britain's martial arts national championship for his category.

Selected as part of an elite group to train in Malaysia, Park went on to compete and win tournaments around the world, including the First World Wu Shu Championship in Beijing; the Malaysian National Championships (in which he was one of only four Westerners); the European Championships in London (where he won four Gold Medals), the International Wu Shu/Chin Woo Championships in Tian Quin, China (two Gold Medals and a Silver); as well as tournaments in Germany, Moscow and Istanbul. In 1995, Park realized a major goal by competing in the Marital Arts World Championships.

While doing odd jobs, coaching gymnastics and martial arts, Park auditioned as a stunt person for the 1997 film Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation, which led to a role as stunt double and the launch of his film career. He subsequently auditioned for stunt work on Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace but, after seeing a tape of his fight sequences, George Lucas and producer Rick McCallum offered him the role of Darth Maul instead. Additionally, Lucas gave Park the freedom to choreograph many of his character's fight scenes.

Park will next star as the lead in Kirk Wong's live-action adaptation of the Marvel comic Iron Fist.

Bio courtesy Warner Bros. for "Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever" (04-Sep-2002)