On Friday, Lucasfilm announced the official cast listing for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. Tucked among confirmation of Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando Calrissian (!), Mark Hamill coming back as some version of Luke Skywalker, and even a posthumous appearance from Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, the announcement included series newcomers Ackie and Richard E. Grant. We already have a theory about Ackie’s character, but there’s another rumor floating around that Grant will bring fan-favorite villain Admiral Thrawn to the big screen.
But is this even possible?
The Star Wars Rebels series finale earlier this year implied that Thrawn and Ezra probably died when Thrawn’s battered Star Destroyer jumped to hyperspace despite extensive damage from Purrgil space whales. But series executive producer and writer Dave Filoni previously confirmed in an interview with the Star Wars Show that both characters survive.
The real question then becomes: Would Thrawn be too old by the time Episode IX happens?
Thrawn — real name Mitth’raw’nuruodo, by the way — is of the blue-skinned race called Chiss, and even though they mature much faster than your typical humanoid, they do have the same average life expectancy. He played a prominent role in Star Wars Rebels, which takes place something like 35 years before the new trilogy. So would Thrawn even be alive in the present day? We can only work off estimates that assume Thrawn was at least in his late-30s during Rebels, which would make the 61-year-old Grant just a few short years younger than the character would be.
Also consider that recent canonical novels about the character called Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances don’t confirm his exact age, but they do imply that Thrawn’s age is comparable to Anakin Skywalker’s. Had the OG Chosen One not gotten burned to a crisp and died at the end of Return of the Jedi, he could’ve lived into the new trilogy and been around 75 years old.
In short, it’s totally possible that Thrawn is alive and potentially working with the First Order in the present day. Or maybe he’s doing something nefarious somewhere else in the galaxy on his own terms. If he does appear in Episode IX, then we’ll have to get some kind of canonical explanation as to why he’s been MIA all this time.
There’s even more fuel for this theory that Grant is playing Thrawn on Twitter, where someone posted this great side-by-side comparison:
Tons of fans reacted to this with funny GIFs and other positive comments, and the official Richard E. Grant account also Liked some of them. That’s far from anything even resembling a confirmation, but Grant is at least aware of his resemblance to the character.
There’s no telling who Grant is really playing, so we’ll have to wait for more information as we get closer to the Episode IX release date.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019.