Star Wars’ Ian McDiarmid, who was revealed Friday to have reprised his role as Emperor Palpatine in saga finale Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, perhaps unknowingly predicted his return to the franchise in a September 2017 interview with BBC Scotland.
“I suppose there must be a chance but I think you’d find out about it more quickly than I would,” McDiarmid said when prompted to speculate if he would ever again be tapped to play the vicious Sith Lord vanquished in 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
“As far as the new films are concerned, I’m dead. There is no question about that.”
McDiarmid first reprised the role under franchise architect George Lucas in 1999’s Phantom Menace, and again in 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. The star then pointed to the growing anthology series as the likeliest avenue for a potential revisit.
“But there is what they call the anthology series and actually the most recent one, Rogue One, was about the time when I was in charge. I was referred to a few times, Darth Vader popped up, but you did not see me,” McDiarmid said.
“Maybe they are keeping me as a surprise for later but I have no idea. Of course, I don’t want anyone else to play him.”
Palpatine’s infamous cackle closed out the first Rise of Skywalker trailer, debuted Friday at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, and that first footage was followed by McDiarmid’s surprise appearance at the event’s panel.
Skywalker writer-director J.J. Abrams later confirmed Palpatine’s return, with Empire Magazine’s James Dyer reporting Abrams was “thrilled and slightly incredulous” McDiarmid’s on-set presence wasn’t leaked.
It’s not yet known what role the villain plays in the saga closer: a voiceover from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) says “no one is ever really gone” while Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are seen discovering the remnants of what is likely the Death Star II.
The Emperor’s return was previously set up in the animated Star Wars Rebels, which revealed the ethereal “World Between Worlds,” a mysterious realm that acted as a simultaneous window to both the past and the future.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases December 20.
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