Home Entertainment Star Wars’ Ian McDiarmid Refused To Learn Palpatine’s Backstory

Star Wars’ Ian McDiarmid Refused To Learn Palpatine’s Backstory


In George Lucas’ 1974 rough draft for the first “Star Wars,” there was Cos Dashit, a weak-willed, low-level politician and failed upward until he became President of the Republic before becoming Emperor. Initially, he was a puppet, controlled by bureaucrats of the Empire like Tarkin, and he was never a Force user (or even a particularly clever individual).

It was only later that Palpatine became the mastermind of the whole saga and the puppeteer of every conflict in the galaxy, with the character being inspired by politicians like Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney. The final version of Palpatine was far from a clown, with McDiarmid telling StarWars.com in 2002 that the character “is more evil than the devil. At least Satan fell — he has a history, and it’s one of revenge. But the Emperor — well, I don’t know all the details, but who does of the Sith? — is an independent agent who just lives for the exercise of power. He doesn’t know what scruples are, let alone have any.”

The idea of the Emperor as a puppet is rather interesting. There are elements of that in the “Star Wars” sequels, where characters like Armitage Hux serve that purpose as a patsy in a position of power who doesn’t have much agency. Even the trilogy’s Supreme Leader Snoke is little more than a puppet, a placeholder until Palpatine somehow returned in “The Rise of Skywalker.”

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