Ian McDiarmid has been playing Emperor Palpatine since 1983’s Return of the Jedi, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see him in that exact role again in future stories — at least in the ones set in the time after The Rise of Skywalker.
“I haven’t been approached,” he told ComicBook.com when asked if he’ll be part of the future Star Wars movie featuring Rey Skywalker. To be fair, he danced around questions about appearing in shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Bad Batch without spoiling any surprises, so really, anything could happen.
There’s no logical reason he would play Palpatine in this particular movie, however. The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to symbolize the final demise of the longtime franchise villain — the same villain Rey defeated with the strength of the Force.
Bringing him back would diminish the power behind that final confrontation — Rey’s trust in and reliance on the Force allowed her to overpower the most dangerous force in the galaxy, restoring her faith in the Light.
Sure, it’s possible we could still hear Palpatine’s voice in a sort of haunting way, such as Rey remembering the consequences of his evil and using that as a driving force to keep her mind focused on rebuilding the Jedi Order.
But we’ve been comfortable with Palpatine as the main overarching villain in Star Wars for almost 50 years. If the next Star Wars movies are meant to symbolize some sort of “new beginning,” we should really let Palpatine and the man behind the character rest.
Ian McDiarmid could always still play the character in stories set before The Rise of Skywalker — he’s already done that. And if he wants to continue lending his voice to the role every now and then, he should — clearly he loves it, and no one would dare take that joy away from him!
But the end of the sequel trilogy did establish a hard ending to a long-standing story. The forces Rey and her companions battle in any future stories should be something new, unexpected, and challenging in a way we haven’t seen on-screen before.
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