As one of the few new faces among the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX, Richard E. Grant has confirmed he won't be playing a certain fan-favorite villain in the upcoming sci-fi film.
The veteran Swazi-English actor had been linked to the part of Grand Admiral Thrawn, an Imperial officer that leads a resurgent Galactic Empire against the New Republic in the Star Wars Expanded Universe before most of the Expanded Universe was removed from official continuity during the production of 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In a new interview, Grant denies that he was actually cast for the role.
"I’m not playing the Star Wars character you just mentioned," declared Grant firmly in an interview with Radio Times when asked by the British news organization how he was preparing for the role of Thrawn. "I’m not allowed to tell you anything otherwise I would be fired. It’s a complete lockdown on any information whatsoever."
After his casting in the latest Star Wars film became public last month, fan speculation mounted that Grant was portraying Thrawn in his live-action debut with rumors being further fueled by a fan tweet linking Grant to the fan-favorite character liked by the actor. With Thrawn's inclusion in Episode IX never actually confirmed by LucasFilm nor that Grant would be playing a villain in the upcoming film, Grant's role in the Star Wars Universe remains a mystery for now.
In the meantime, fans can catch the newly re-introduced Thrawn on the small screen on Star Wars Rebels where he is voiced by Lars Mikkelsen or the new Thrawn novel by original creator Timothy Zahn. In addition to receiving a prose sequel Thrawn: Alliances, the acclaimed novel was adapted earlier this year in comic book form by writer Jody Houser and artist Luke Ross.
Directed by JJ Abrams, Star Wars: Episode IX stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. It is scheduled to open on December 20, 2019.