'Star Wars Episode IX': Is Richard E. Grant Teasing Thrawn Role?

p>Is one of the most popular characters from the Star Wars Legends community be making an appearance in Episode IX? That's what some fans seem to think, and actor Richard E. Grant might just be teasing it as well.

Last week Lucasfilm announced the casting for the upcoming ninth and final installment of the Skywalker saga with Grant listed as being among a handful of other newcomers to the franchise. While his role wasn't specified, fans online immediately started pointing out the similarities in appearance between Grant and one of the most popular characters in the extensive Star Wars Legends continuity -- Grand Admiral Thrawn. Some fans even took to social media to post their comparison between Grant and Thrawn and that's where things get a little more interesting. Grant himself liked a tweet responding to one of the comparisons causing fans to wonder if this is a sly confirmation of their theory.

richard e grant thrawn
(Photo: Mike Ochoa/Twitter)

That second of three likes? That's Grant's official Twitter account. Now, to be fair, this is in no way confirmation that Grant is bringing Thrawn to life. The actor has received a large outpouring of support and congratulations as well as new interest since his casting in Episode IX was announced. However, if director J.J. Abrams is looking to bring Thrawn to the film, Grant would be an excellent choice. The actor has had an extensive career in both film and television with many fans recognizing him as Dr. Zander Rice in Logan. He also really kind of looks the part.

For those who aren't familiar, Thrawn may be one of the most significant characters in the Legends continuity, so much so that even after most former Expanded Universe was officially declared non-canon to the Star Wars franchise in 2014 Thrawn found his way onto the animated Star Wars Rebels series. First introduced in Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, Thrawn is an Imperial military commander who takes control of what's left of the Galactic Empire in the years following Return of the Jedi. A menacing and complex antagonist, Thrawn would make compelling villain for Episode IX especially now that Supreme Leader Snoke is no more and with the Resistance on the rise again after the events of The Last Jedi.

If Grant is playing Thrawn, fans will no doubt be thrilled to see the character come to life on the big screen, but given Lucasfilm's secretive nature on Star Wars productions, we're unlikely to hear anything about Grant's character -- or any of the new characters for Episode IX -- until they want us to know more. The studio is working extra hard to keep the secrets of the film, including going so far as to use old technology to prevent leaks.

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Do you think Episode IX will see Grand Admiral Thrawn as a villain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Star Wars: Episode IX will open in theaters in December 2019.