Original ‘Star Wars’ Emperor Actor Ian McDiarmid Returns

Everything is proceeding exactly as he has foreseen. Sort of. The most feared Sith Lord of them all, call him Darth Sidious, Emperor Palpatine, or just plain old Sheev, is back. But probably not in the way you might expect. Ian McDiarmid is returning to voice the Emperor for the final season of the animated series Star Wars Rebels.

On Friday, Disney released a new trailer for the final season of Star Wars Rebels. Largely recapping the entire series thus far, the trailer also teases the idea that young Ezra Bridger might turn to the Dark side of the Force. Cackling his famous cackle, Emperor Palpatine says, “Ezra Bridger, finally mine!”

Previously, Ezra has made it something of a habit to get cozy with Dark side baddies. Before Obi-Wan Kenobi killed him, Ezra was even really tight with Darth Maul. But will his character arc end with him becoming Palpatine’s lackey?

Ezra and the Emperor


The return of McDiarmid to what is arguably his most famous role is a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Though originally voiced by Clive Revill in The Empire Strikes Back, McDiarmid has been the canonical cinematic Emperor since Return of the Jedi. And, in lending his voice to the canonical Star Wars cartoons, he follows in the footsteps of several other actors including Billy Dee Williams, Liam Neeson, James Earl Jones, Frank Oz, and Forest Whitaker.

What role the Emperor will play in Rebels remains to be seen. But we’ll put good money on him not getting killed by Ezra. Let’s just say we can see the future.

The first new episode of Rebels will air on Disney XD on February 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern, and the last episode will air on March 5 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. The last episode will also be an hour and a half long.

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