I Never Knew This About Palpatine

For my entire life, I’ve assumed something about the actor who played Emperor Palpatine in the original Star Wars movies (starting with Return of the Jedi). Before I get to that assumption, I have two questions for you:

  1. How old do you think Ian McDiarmid was when he was cast as Emporer Palpatine?
  2. What is the name of the actor who played Emporer Palpatine 20 years later for the prequels?

Here’s what my answers would have been prior to reading this Slashfilm article a few days ago:

  1. I would have guessed that the actor who originally played Palpatine was in his 60s, with extra makeup added to make him look even older.
  2. I wouldn’t have known the actor’s name, but given that Palpatine in the prequels is younger than Palpatine in the original movies, I would have guessed a younger actor.

As it turns out, I was completely wrong. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Ian McDiarmid was 37 years old when he was cast as Palpatine in the 1980s. That’s it! Lots of makeup and prosthetics were used to make him look old.
  2. Ian McDiarmid also played Palpatine in the sequels! By that point the actor had aged to look like a younger Palpatine (albeit less reptilian), which made perfect sense for episodes I-III.

I’m sure even more avid Star Wars fans than me knew these answers, but I was shocked. Did you know? What’s your favorite piece of Star Wars trivia? I’ll also write about the new Obi-Wan series soon, so no spoilers for it!

2 thoughts on “I Never Knew This About Palpatine”

  1. My favorite piece of Star Wars trivia has to do with the fact that Darth Vader as Luke’s dad was a closely-held secret by George Lucas. So much so that they never mentioned it to David Prowse (the man in the Darth Vader costume) as he had a tendency to let things slip.

  2. I love that Star Wars was so inspired by Dune, but instead of fearing AI George embraced it as a tool! The AI are such great characters in the stories. R2D2, C3PO, the Milliniam Falcon (AI from Solo movie).


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