In 1983, fans saw what they assumed was the demise of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, only for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to feature the villain's return, with creature and makeup effects supervisor Neal Scanlan recently confirming that the film nearly featured a variety of more gruesome appearances for the figure. While all iterations of the film featured Palpatine returning through the use of clones, Scanlan pointed out that the bodies used for his return had a variety of decays and deterioration before the filmmakers settled for what was seen in the film's theatrical release.
"Luke Fisher, who is one of the concept designers that works with us, did a lot of sketches of Palpatine being on a kind of life support system," Scanlan revealed to Collider. "Something that is keeping him alive and keeping him in one piece. And then some parts of his physicality are almost independently being fed the necessary nutrients of life-giving entities. So the idea of him being held on a rig which allowed him to move around and almost the Nosferatu aspect of that sequence, all of those things were part of trying to come to understand how much we would show with that."
Fans first learned that Palpatine would somehow return with the film's first teaser, igniting speculation about how such a return was possible. While the film's opening sequences only hinted at the Sith Lord's return, the film's novelization shed more insight into the matter, confirming that Sith loyalists had been preparing clones to serve as a new host body for Palpatine.
Given the immense villainy of the character, some clones rejected Palpatine in more extreme ways.
"In the early concept days they were quite extreme," Scanlan pointed out. "We explored a dismembered version of him. We explored more abstract versions of what he might be. You slowly get to the point where in [director] J.J's [Abrams] world, that [Palpatine clone] story is still being told, but to an audience that maybe is not so familiar with Star Wars, you don't have to know the backstory so much. You can understand and be part of that story without necessarily having too much history. It's that combination of being able to tell the story but at the same time have some depth to it, which is referring back to a larger meaning or a greater explanation."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now available on Digital HD and hits 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31st.