Is everyone’s favorite bow tie-rocking Doctor Who Time Lord actually in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker or what? In 2018, we all thought Matt Smith was a lock for Episode IX, then, in March, he said outright that he’s not in the movie. But now, a new rumor has dropped out of hyperspace that feels very close to possible, and my own trusted source provided some key information to back it up.
Everything that follows is a huge rumor, but still possibly a Star Wars spoiler! If you’re giving into your anger about these kinds of things lately, you’ve been warned! (And now, you will be warned again.)
Possible spoilers for Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker ahead.
On April 27, reliable fan rumor site Making Star Wars doubled-down on this whole Matt Smith thing, pointing out, that yes, several official non-U.S. Disney websites have listed Matt Smith in the cast. That’s right, people who actually work for Disney websites like the Disney.cz (that’s for the Czech Republic) have totally “confirmed” Smith is in the cast. Here’s a screenshot of what that translated page looks like. Yep, that’s Matt Smith’s name on a real Disney website.
Of course, it’s possible that the people writing the copy for the Disney.cz just have their facts wrong, but that feels unlikely and also no fun! If Matt Smith is in the movie (and it seems like he is) then his role is being kept a secret for some very specific reason. Making Star Wars thinks it’s what many of us think: Smith is playing some version of a young Emperor.
This isn’t about Star Wars time travel though, instead, the rumor is more like The Exorcist meets Ghostbusters II. Confused? I’ll explain.
According to the mysterious sources on Making Star Wars, Matt Smith is playing a Dark Side dude who is one of Kylo Ren’s rivals, but not in the Knights of Ren. At some point in the movie, this character will be willingly possessed by the spirit of Emperor Palpatine. And then, supposedly, at another point, Palpatine will transfer his consciousness into Kylo Ren, which will obviously lead to some problems for Rey and the gang.
While this might sound a little goofy at first, there are several reasons why it seems legit. We’ve already gone over the weird hardcore secrecy of Matt Smith’s role, so there’s that. Second, I can honestly say that I have one anonymous source who told me that Kylo Ren would face the Emperor in some way shape or form. I got this tip months before the The Rise of Skywalker trailer dropped and we heard that Emperor cackle, so, to me, this seems like a forgone conclusion. If Palps is in the movie (even as a ghost) it makes sense Kylo Ren will have to deal with him, right?
Finally, the notion that Sith assholes can move their consciousnesses into other people’s bodies and “possess” them has some really old school canon precedents. In the Kevin J. Anderson Jedi Academy Trilogy a few of Luke’s students — notably the hotheaded Kyp Durron — get possessed by the spirit of Exar Kun, an super ancient Sith Lord. In the Dark Lords of the Sith comics, it turns out that Exar Kun was also in contact with an even older Dark Side spirit called Freedon Nadd. But, most interestingly, in Dark Lords of the Sith (about 3,5000 years BBY) we learn that those temples on Yavin IV were actually built by Exar Kun. In legends canon, Luke has his Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, and stumbled upon all the slumbering Dark Side magic kind of on accident.
Here’s the thing. We know almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Rise of Skywalker will bring our characters back to Yavin IV. That shot in the trailer of the “Death Star beach” seems to imply some of the wreckage of the OG Death Star landed on Yavin IV after Luke blew it up in A New Hope. So, if Rey, Finn, and Poe are all on Yavin IV, it seems possible that the story could borrow a tiny bit from Legends canon and reveal that Dark Side spirits are alive and well there. Or, at the very least, that some kind Sith magic exists on Yavin IV that could bring the Emperor back.
Does this sound like a stretch? Maybe. But, the reality is, the sequel trilogy has borrowed more from Legends canon than it hasn’t. Here’s a brief list of concepts that happened in Legends books and comics before they showed-up in the sequel trilogy:
- Han and Leia’s son turns to the Dark Side
- Luke gives up being a Jedi
- A superweapon is created that can destroy whole star systems, not just planets
- Admiral Ackbar dies in a giant battle
- Leia uses the Force in amazing ways
- The New Republic is formed, but then turns back into the Rebellion
- The Emperor returns, but with a twist
Famously, in the comic book series Dark Empire, the Emperor used clone bodies, and some fans have suggested that Matt Smith would be a good candidate for that clone body. Original Palpatine actor Ian Mcdiarmid has also said unequivocally that Palpatine is dead. If this new rumor turns out to be true, then perhaps McDiarmid is telling the truth, and it’s the ghost of Palpatine haunting Ben Solo, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and the most epic chin in the galaxy…Matt Smith.
Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.