Since our first look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the speculation machine has been buzzing about what familiar characters would make an appearance. Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and Darth Vader have all been confirmed through trailers and by Jimmy Smits himself. The one character that seemed to be missing was the most insidious Sith Lord in the galaxy, Emperor Palpatine. Many speculated the cloaked figure seen in the first trailer, kneeling ,with royal guards in the background, was the emperor (see feature image). Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
During an interview with XGN , the legendary actor behind Sheev Palpatine (the Emperor’s real name), Ian McDiarmid was asked about his involvement in the upcoming Star Wars adventure. McDiarmid responded with the following statement.
“Rogue One’s on its way, when I was in charge of things – I mean the Emperor, not me. I am not featured in [the movie] myself, but I understand that Darth Vader may be making an appearance.”
It’s a very definitive statement from McDiarmid and leaves little wiggle room in questioning his involvement. Rogue One takes place at the height of the Empire, for the leader of that Empire to not have an appearance is very surprising. It’s still possible he will have some sort of cameo, similar to his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. There’s no doubt his presence will be felt, even if he isn’t physically there.
While many fans will be disappointed, from a story perspective it makes sense. The Emperor does all of his work in the shadows and bringing him to the forefront would be contradictory to his character. It’s clear Gareth Edwards will be focusing on the new characters. Using familiar characters like Vader, Mothma, and Organa to give a sense of continuity.
Image: Walt Disney Co./Lucasfilm