Ian McDiarmid, the actor behind Star Wars' villainous Emperor Palpatine, was "totally surprised" by his character's return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he admitted in a new interview with Digital Spy.
Many Star Wars fans were highly upset at the Sith leader's return and have gone after Skywalker writers J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio for including the Emperor in the final installment of the legendary series. McDiarmid, in the interview, says Star Wars creator George Lucas never intended to revive the character after his death in Return of the Jedi.
"I thought I was dead!" McDiarmid said in the video above, at the 2:34 mark. "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," he continued, speaking on the Star Wars prequels that showcased a young Palpatine. "But I was totally surprised by this.”
According to Digital Spy, Lucas intended for Palpatine's character to be completely done after Darth Vader killed him in Return of the Jedi, McDiarmid says. Despite the criticism surrounding the film, Skywalker continues to demolish the box office, earning $35 million on Christmas day, the second-highest gross of all time, behind only The Force Awakens.