The passing of Carrie Fisher has made me realize the iconic actors that brought the legendary characters of Star Wars to life will not be around forever. This compelled me to include Ian McDiarmid’s Star Wars Celebration panel from this afternoon in our coverage today, and although it didn’t have any spoilers or upcoming film news, it took us a little deeper inside the mind of the most diabolical character in the galaxy…
Ian McDiarmid’s panel at Star Wars Celebration started off with our host (and excellent one at that) Warwick Davis showing us a montage of Palpatine throughout the course of the saga, and introducing the man himself, Ian McDiarmid. Here are highlights from their interview:
- When George Lucas called Ian to “audition” for a role in the prequel trilogy, he asked him how he felt about playing an Emperor. Ian said he’d be interested, and the audition was over. I don’t think any of us could imagine anyone else playing the role of Palpatine, so this was more of a humorous anecdote to get things going.
- McDiarmid was given no information on the character, but simply the script, wardrobe, and makeup, which helped him mold Palpatine the way he saw him, and the only thing that remained was his voice. He revealed he physically saw the Emperor as almost reptilian, with his wrinkled skin and yellow eyes, and developed the now iconic and recognizable evil voice based on his impression of a reptile learning to speak. He created the voice from his diaphragm and less so from his throat, as he wanted the evil to literally come from within.
- Much to fans disappointment, McDiarmid knows only what was in the script pages in regards to Darth Plagueis, so there are no scrapped notes or lines that he knows of.
- The now famous opera scene where Palpatine speaks to Anakin about Plagueis and the powers of the dark side took 20 takes, although they never rehearsed the scene. McDiarmid recalls having an extremely hoarse throat, which made him ask George Lucas to delay filming the scene. Lucas felt the involuntary hoarseness of his voice actually worked as a bridge between Palpatine the politician and the Sith Lord, the real monster within, so the takes were used. The scene was then played in its entirety for the audience.
“The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural” – Sheev Palpatine
Warwick Davis then turned it over to the crowd for questions to close out the panel. Again, it was no headline grabbing news worthy panel, but we were able to listen to the actor who played the most evil character in the Star Wars saga over the course of three decades. For nostalgia and insight alone it was a fun panel. I hope you had a chance to see it, but if not, go to the Star Wars YouTube channel and check it out!
You can find me on Twitter @JohnnyHoey