Ian McDiarmid’s iconic Palpatine laugh was heard in the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, released earlier this month.
Intriguingly, McDiarmid later explained that it was an old laugh being used in the trailer – not one he had newly-recorded.
This started speculation as to how exactly Palpatine will be important to the new film, especially as he seemed to meet a very definite end in Return of the Jedi.
A new theory suggests that Matt Smith is the answer.
Smith was reported last year to be in the movie, but recently said that’s simply not true.
“As far as I can tell, I’m definitely not [in it],” he told the LA Times.
Fans have since been debating whether he was simply acting in accordance with the huge secrecy that surrounds Star Wars movies – and things took a turn last week when international Disney websites appeared to list him amongst the cast.
Now a Reddit user, Mikeywise14, has offered some reason over the prospect of him playing a clone or new iteration of Palpatine.
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They typed, in a post that has been 91% Upvoted: “well, with international disney websites confirming variety’s earlier report that matt smith will be in rise of skywalker (ROS), it’s time to look at a bizarre theory that at first i didn’t believe: matt smith will play a palpatine clone [sic].
“to me, it didn’t make sense because ian was confirmed to be on set by JJ (he called ian his ‘best kept secret’).
“however, a commentator on an earlier post of mine said it’s possible that ian was there to teach matt how to play the emperor. There, it pieced together.
“With these disney star wars films, they always tricked people using purposefully misleading comments. for force awakens, it was luke’s role by giving mark high billing for a cameo. for last jedi, it was the tone of the film by making it look serious in ads.
“maybe for rise of skywalker, it will be ian on set and matt smith.”
Responding in the comments, another user pointed out: “Makes me wonder where the clone will come from, if this is the case.
“Will they learn about the hidden experiment base on Jakku after going to the Death Star wreckage? Will they arrive there, find out that Anakin and Rey are both products of the same process, and somehow awaken an unfinished clone of the Emperor?
“Or maybe he has been there for a while, puppeting things behind the scenes from afar, even Snoke.”
We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out just what the answers are.
Whatever the case, JJ Abrams has confirmed that the Emperor is in the movie – in some capacity.
Empire magazine’s James Dyer tweeted after Star Wars Celebration: “In case there’s any lingering ambiguity from the trailer (and McDiarmid’s appearance at the panel!), I can 100% confirm that Palptatine is back in The Rise of Skywalker as I just asked JJ.
“He’s thrilled – and slightly incredulous – that McDiarmid’s presence on set didn’t leak.”
As for McDiarmid, he tweeted: “The dark side is stronger than ever. #EpisodeIX.”
Star Wars 9 is out on December 19.