Ian McDiarmid Defends Palpatine’s Return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a film that has a legacy among Jedi and Sith alike. When the final chapter in the sequel trilogy premiered, it was met with harsh criticism from both fans and newcomers. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what everyone had a problem with, all except for one factor. Nobody seemed to approve of Emperor Palpatine returning from the dead, all except one, and that is the Emperor himself!

During the 2022 Star Wars Celebration, /Film representatives were present at Ian McDiarmid: An Audience with the Emperor. During the panel, McDiarmid revealed special tidbits, trivia, and other fun stories. McDiarmid, who played the classic villain in all three Star Wars trilogies, made his own thoughts on the controversial decision public. /Film has the quote below.


“It was nice to know that I wasn’t dead. Well, he wouldn’t be, would he? A lot of people said, ‘You can’t bring him back, he was dead! Did you see that fall? How could anyone survive that?’ Excuse me… [audience laughs] He’s the Emperor of the Universe. Anyway, nobody’s going to tell me he wouldn’t have had a Plan B, should someone — unlikely though he may have thought — manage to semi-destroy him. And of course he had the best operational ward team of surgeons, they were very small but they were very thorough, maybe you remember from the film. And he had the best that money could buy, that enforcement could produce. And he also had that marvelous galactic wheelchair, which was a huge advantage.”

An Emperor’s Return

McDiarmid expressed happiness at the thought of returning to the role that he was so famous for. He went on to explain that the design for the Emperor changed during the development of Rise of Skywalker. He commented that the initial designs made the Emperor look more fragile and broken, with tubes coming out of his head and a bad arm. However, as the development of the film continued, the designers chose a more subtle approach. This included hiding the machinery and prosthetics under Palpatine’s signature robes and bearing more of a resemblance to the same prosthetics that were used on Anakin and Luke.

When you take into account just how many years have passed between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy, the concept of Palpatine’s machinery and prosthetics growing sleeker over the years makes sense. Utilizing technology to enhance the physical body is kind of a normal thing not just in the galaxy far, far away, but especially within the Empire. After all, Anakin’s physical transformation into Darth Vader involved lots of heavy enhancements. What’s there to stop Palpatine from using it on himself? And if he had followers nearby that were willing to follow his orders, then the answer is right in front of us. But does that excuse the execution in the movie?

Regardless of how you feel about the Rise of Skywalker, I think we can all agree on one thing. Ian McDiarmid put on a fantastic performance in his role of The Emperor. The dark cloaked villain has wormed his way into the hearts of fans for generations with his unforgettable dialogue and presence. Likewise, it’s also nothing but great to see an actor jump at the chance of returning to a character again.