"I first encountered Emperor Palpatine at Elstree Studios in the early 1980s. He was staring back at me from a make-up mirror, larger than life and 50 times as ugly. Yellow contact lenses stung my eyes and afforded little peripheral vision. As I walked onto a vast sound stage that had been transformed into a starship hangar, populated by seemingly endless platoons of gleaming white stormtroopers, the scale of George Lucas's vision hit me. This was space spectacle, a back-drop for a space opera of Wagnerian dimension."
―Ian McDiarmid[src]

Ian McDiarmid (born August 11, 1944[1]) portrayed Palpatine/Darth Sidious in the Star Wars films. He appears in every film of the prequel trilogy, as well as in Return of the Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. He is one of the three actors to have appeared in all three Star Wars trilogies along with Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). He did not play the Emperor in the original release of The Empire Strikes Back, but was edited in for the 2004 DVD release of the original trilogy and subsequent releases. McDiarmid also worked with George Lucas on the 1992 television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, in which McDiarmid portrayed Professor Levi in the episode "Paris, October 1916."

He has also had a distinguished career in British theatre, working as Associate Artistic Director for the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester (1986 - 1989), joint Artistic Director at London's Almedia Theatre (1990 - 2002) and as a Board Member of the National Theatre of Scotland. Recent and upcoming projects include a return to the role of Teddy in Brian Friel's Faith Healer (for which he won a Tony award) and in the world premiere of Robert Holman's Jonah & Otto, which marks his return to the Royal Exchange.

Star Wars filmography[]

Title Role Release date
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi Palpatine/Darth Sidious 1983
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace 1999
Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones 2002
Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back 2004
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith 2005
Star Wars: A Musical Journey Host
Angry Birds Star Wars II "Join the Pork Side" trailer[2][3] King Pig as Darth Sidious 2012
Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal Emperor (voice) 2015
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens Darth Sidious (archive audio)
Star Wars Rebels Season Four[4] Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (voice) 2018
Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker Palpatine[5] 2019
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Shattered" Darth Sidious (archive recorded voice) 2020
Star Wars: The Bad Batch, "Aftermath" Darth Sidious (archive recorded voice) 2021


Explore all of Wookieepedia's audio files for this article subject.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 SWYTlogo.png LEGO Celebrates Life Day, Bounty Hunters #4 Preview, and More! on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  2. SWYTlogo.png Angry Birds Star Wars II: Join the Pork Side on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  3. SWYTlogo.png Angry Birds Star Wars II: The Making of Join the Pork Side on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)
  4. StarWars.com The Final Episodes of Star Wars Rebels Begin February 19 on Disney XD on StarWars.com (backup link)
  5. TwitterLogo.svg James Dyer (@jamescdyer) on Twitter: "In case there's any lingering ambiguity from the trailer (and McDiarmid's appearance at the panel!), I can 100% confirm that Palpatine is back in The Rise Of Skywalker as I just asked JJ. He's thrilled - and slightly incredulous- that McDiarmid's presence on set didn't leak." (screenshot)

External links[]