The upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will see the return of actor Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine, with one fan on Reddit pointing out that the actor even recorded dialogue for Star Wars Rebels that replaced Sam Witwer's original recordings. McDiarmid previously voiced the character in the fourth season of the series, with the inspiration for the substitution likely being to create a more uniform experience for the series ahead of the launch of the streaming service Disney+, as Witwer has been voicing a number of characters in the franchise to much acclaim for more than a decade. You can hear the new recording in the video above.
Star Wars Rebels debuted in 2014, depicting the adventures of the Ghost crew in the years leading up to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. While the Empire was in control of the galaxy, the tone of the series was in line with an adventure like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the ways it unfolded in a familiar world without having to focus on familiar characters. The two-part Season Two premiere, however, enlisted not just Palpatine but also Darth Vader to pose an intimidating threat for our heroes.
Witwer debuted at Palpatine in the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game series, leading to a number of exciting opportunities in the saga, including voicing Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The actor even voiced Maul for his on-screen return in Solo: A Star Wars Story, in addition to having portrayed the villain the Rebels.
With Palpatine seemingly having been killed in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, fans had assumed we would only be seeing the character in animated adventures or possible spinoff films in the future. When the first teaser for The Rise of Skywalker debuted back in April and ended with the villain's signature laugh, fans were left to speculate about whether this served as confirmation of Palpatine's symbolic presence in the new film or if the figure could actually return.
"I will say that that's part of what the story is, and also, I will say that with the Emperor around, he's not going to be your, you know, the cuddly pal," director J.J. Abrams previously teased with MTV News. "I can't wait for you to see how that plays out, but he's in the poster for a reason."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th. All episodes of Star Wars Rebels will be available on Disney+, which launches on November 12th.
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