It came as a shock to legions of excited fans when the first official trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker ended with a familiar laugh. Even without footage showing the villain behind it, that evil cackle clearly belonged to Emperor Palpating, also known as Darth Sidious, the one-time supreme ruler of a galaxy that's far, far away.
Thanks to the presence of award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, Palpatine's presence in the next installment of the franchise is all but guaranteed. However, that laughter is curiously, not from the upcoming film.
According to McDiarmid, "That particular laugh was not specially recorded. They found it somewhere, probably from one of the old movies or in a digital vault, or maybe George’s iPhone, I don’t know."
What this means for Palpatine's role in Episode IX is anyone's guess at this point. It has been confirmed that McDiarmid was on set for filming, but the decision to use an old audio clip for the trailer suggests that the character may not have lines -- or bouts of laughter, at least -- in the actual film.
The Emperor famously perished at the end of 1983's Star Wars: Return of the Jedi after his apprentice, Darth Vader, hurled him into the reactor shaft of the second Death Star, seemingly fulfilling an ancient prophecy and bringing balance to the Force. The apparent return of Palpatine has therefore troubled some fans, who complain that -- if he should appear alive and well -- the return of the Sith Lord would render the events of the original and prequel trilogies largely meaningless.
Lucasfilm has maintained a high level of secrecy when it comes to the Star Wars franchise, so very few details about the upcoming movie have been released, other than the fact that certain characters such as Lando Calrissian will make a return.
Oscar Issac, who plays Poe Dameron in the new trilogy, has stated that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will offer a close to the nine main films of the Star Wars franchise. To that end, J.J Abrams revealed that the filmmakers turned to George Lucas in order to help create a fitting conclusion.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives December 20.