Ian McDiarmid Says Original ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Script Confirmed Palpatine Clone, but Reveal Got Cut

“Star Wars” fans are abuzz this week over the revelation that Emperor Palpatine is a clone in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” The movie itself never answered the question of how Palpatine survived his apparent death in “Return of the Jedi” to return decades later as the franchise’s chief antagonist. Fans were left debating after “The Rise of Skywalker” how Palpatine could’ve survived, but the upcoming novelization of the film by writer Rae Carson confirms the Sith lord in the latest “Star Wars” film is a clone inhabited by the soul of his original self. It turns out the film would’ve confirmed as much had the original “Rise of Skywalker” script been featured in the theatrical cut.

During an appearance this month at London Comic Con Spring, Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid said the clone reveal was included in “The Rise of Skywalker” script from the beginning. For reasons yet to be explained, the reveal got cut from the finished movie and no answer was ever provided on screen.

“The cloning thing? Yes. Well, of course, there were all sorts of explanations for why I might return,” McDiarmid said during a panel. “But it’s interesting because at one point the script had a line in that first scene with Adam when he says ‘You’re a clone.’ And I said in that original script, which is no longer with us, ‘More than a clone. Less than a man.’ Which seemed to me to sum it up really.”

Palpatine’s return proved to be one of the most divisive plot points in “The Rise of Skywalker.” McDiarmid said last December shortly after the latest “Star Wars” movie opened nationwide that George Lucas would have never brought Palpatine back from the dead if he was still in charge of the franchise.

“I thought I was dead!” McDiarmid told Digital Spy. “I thought he was dead. Because when we did ‘Return of the Jedi,’ and I was thrown down that chute to Galactic Hell, he was dead. And I said, ‘Oh, does he come back?’ And [George] said, ‘No, he’s dead.’ So I just accepted that. But then, of course, I didn’t know I was going to be doing the prequels, so in a sense he wasn’t dead, because we went back to revisit him when he was a young man. But I was totally surprised by this.”

Carson’s “Rise of Skywalker” novelization is expected to answer other questions the theatrical cut never did. The book will be available to own beginning March 17.

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