While the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer revealed that Ian McDiarmid would be reprising the role of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, director J.J. Abrams also confirmed to Empire that Ian was actually on set shooting scenes and was shocked that aspect of the production wasn’t leaked.

It sounds like his return was in the works for a long time.

During a brief chat with Yahoo!, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy revealed that Palpatine’s return was always planned for Episode IX and it was more about how they’d end up doing it.

YAHOO: The big shocker, of course, is the reappearance of Palpatine. What can you tell us about this, how long was this in the cards? Was this sort of part of that blueprint from Episode XII?

KENNEDY: This had been in the blueprint for a long time, yeah. We had not landed on exactly how we might do that but it was always…

YAHOO: Always to be in Episode IX?

KENNEDY: “Yeah.” 

Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams talked about working with Ian on the film.

ABRAMS: “Working with Ian was among the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had. He is a breathtakingly good actor. And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for audiences.”

You can watch the brief interview clips below.

This might suggest that the role is more than just a voice over or cameo if they’re making such a big deal about it, the time spent planning for it, having Ian McDiarmid on stage at Star Wars Celebration and more importantly there during the reveal of Palpatine when they didn’t have to do that. How or why he’s returned will likely be explained later on, but it’s certainly interesting to see him make a return whatever the circumstances or size of his role.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to be released on December 20th.


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