Star Wars: Palpatine Actor Teases Possible Return In Obi-Wan Kenobi Show

By Savannah Sanders Updated:
Palpatine Obi-Wan Kenobi

Now that The Book of Boba Fett has come and gone, Star Wars fans are eagerly anticipating Lucasfilm's next live-action Star Wars series for Disney+: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Set ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi will finally explore the Jedi Master's exile between Order 66 and A New Hope. However, "Old Ben" isn't as much of a hermit as fans were led to believe, as Lucasfilm has promised the series will reunite Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan with Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker.  

While these prequel trilogy stars will be joined by a number of new faces to that galaxy far, far away, such as Marvel's Eternals' Kumail Nanjiani, Moses Ingram, and Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor, they will also be reuniting with other prequel stars. This includes Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa along with Joel Edgerton as Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen and Bonnie Piesse as his Aunt Beru. 

Given the time period of the series, there are plenty of opportunities for a surprise cameo or two; now, it sounds like another iconic prequel-era star could be joining the ranks as well. 

Ian McDiarmid Hints at Palpatine Cameo for Obi-Wan Kenobi

Palpatine, Star Wars
Star Wars

In a September 2021 Metro newspaper interview which was shared online via Reddit user r/StarWarsLeaks, Emperor Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid admitted that even though his character's "annihilation was finally final" at the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga, given Darth Vader's role in Obi-Wan Kenobi, his character's appearance on Disney+ is "not impossible:"

"I think I have to accept that, thanks to my ungrateful granddaughter, my annihilation was finally final. [But] Of course, ]Darth] Vader is back in the new [Obi-Wan Kenobi] television series, so I suppose it's not impossible that one day his mentor might be discovered once again skulking in the shadows." 

Ian McDiarmid first played Emperor Palpatine in 1983's Return of The Jedi, but he was later added to The Empire Strikes Back upon a 2004 DVD release. McDiarmid also played the character in all three of the prequel films, provided the voice for Palpatine in Star Wars Rebels, and then reprised the role in live-action for The Rise of Skywalker.

Somehow, Palpatine Returned

Palpatine's rather shoehorned return in The Rise of Skywalker - and his role as Rey's grandfather - was one of the biggest fan complaints following the conclusion of Disney's Star Wars sequel trilogy.

However, for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, the presence of Palpatine makes perfect sense, especially since Darth Vader is involved and the Empire's control of the galaxy is in full swing. In fact, it's possible that an on-screen Palpatine might be necessary for this series, since he is so integral to the Skywalkers, the state of the galaxy, and Vader's own torment. 

Plus, having an actor involved who has been part of all three film trilogies would go a long way in not only legitimizing Star Wars Disney+ storytelling but also the studio's attempt at further connecting and interweaving the historically disjoined Star Wars Universe

Still, given McDiarmid's language about Palpatine "skulking in the shadows," it's possible that Palpatine might only be a small cameo or even a hologram, similar to how the character first debuted in The Empire Strikes Back.

While the actor didn't confirm his character's return, it's hard to deny that it would perfectly serve this upcoming story and serve as a more fitting send-off for the iconic Star Wars star. Fortunately, fans don't have long to wait to see if Sidious will, in fact, strike back, as the Disney+ series is due for a trailer and is set to arrive in the near future.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to debut on Disney+ on May 25, 2022.

- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.