A few years ago, word got out that Matt Smith was making his way into the Star Wars universe via the final installment in the Skywalker saga, Star Wars — Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. I even had the chance to see Smith at a comic convention in 2018, where the Doctor Who actor played coy about his involvement in Star Wars. But while he couldn’t say much about anything, he still made it seem like he was very certainly going to be in the movie.
That all changed at some point. And it wasn’t until audiences saw The Rise of Skywalker in 2019 that we noticed something was missing… Matt Smith. And now, two years later, Smith is finally opening up about his mysterious casting in the Star Wars franchise.
Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Smith revealed just a little bit about why the role fell through. He explained that he didn’t actually get around to shooting any scenes. But he was able to reveal:
"We were close to me being in it, but then it just never quite happened. I think the thing they were thinking of me for, eventually the part became obsolete and they didn’t need it. And so I never got to be in Star Wars."
The host, Josh Horowitz, then asked Smith if he was going to play Palpatine’s son in the film. And in the video (which you can see in the tweet below), Smith looks around the room playfully, almost stunned at the question. With a smirk on his face, he very casually said:
"I could not possibly say. But it was a pretty groovy thing. It was a pretty groovy concept. It was a big thing. Yeah, it was a big story detail– like a, you know, transformative Star Wars story detail but it never quite got over the line."
On top of all that, Smith added “it was a big shift in the history of the franchise,” in which he had a few meetings to talk about it. But ultimately, for some reason, it wasn’t big enough for them to keep in the final cut.
Matt Smith in The Rise of Skywalker
Previously, back in 2018, it was rumored that Matt Smith would be playing a young version of Palpatine. And so, between this long-standing rumor and Smith’s response to Horowitz’s question, I’m starting to believe that perhaps there is some truth to that rumor.
Of course, we’ll never know if it was actually Palpatine’s son Smith was going to play, or a young version of Palpatine himself. But really, either could have worked, given the trajectory of J.J. Abrams’ movie. And it’s possible that Smith could have been both a young Palpatine and Rey’s father at the same time.
Think back to the explanation behind Rey’s parentage as Palpatine’s granddaughter. It was never explicitly stated in the movie (unfortunately). But later, in the novelization for the film, it was revealed that his son was actually a clone of himself, though not an identical one. And as such, the role would have been perfect for Smith. The weird thing is, we did get to see that son in The Rise of Skywalker briefly. Rey’s father was portrayed by actor Billy Howle. But we only saw him in a short flashback cut scene, and that was it.
I’d wager Matt Smith was clearly going to be in more than just a cut scene. And when they finally decided to ease off the family lineage storyline, they let Matt Smith go and went for a smaller actor instead. All that to say, that’s just speculation. And hopefully, one day, we’ll get the full story about his mystery character.
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