There are plenty of great Star Wars villains, and the most iconic of them was almost quite different. Ian McDiarmid, who plays Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars cast, recently pointed out he wasn’t on the tip of anyone’s tongue for the role.
During a panel at Star Wars Celebration for evildoers in a galaxy far, far away, McDiarmid discussed the Star Wars casting timeline. “I shouldn’t be in it, of course, it should’ve been Alan Webb,” he points out. “Who was a marvellous actor and who was age appropriate for the part at the time.”
For whatever reason, Webb passed on the movie villain. To this day, McDiarmid isn’t sure why, but he has a theory. “I think it was the fact he couldn’t take the contact lenses, which initially were made of glass,” the actor states. “If you’re of a certain age, I was 37 so it was OK, you can tolerate better than others.”
Known for comedy movies, Webb would’ve been a more obvious choice since he was in his 70s when the Original Trilogy of Star Wars movies was happening. That said, we’re all glad McDiarmid got the role, because he’s shepherded the Star Wars character through so much history.
The last time McDiarmid played Palpatine was the last Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. Speaking at Celebration marks 40 years of him and that sinister laugh. That’s quite the stretch, and not one Webb could’ve been a part of, so the best performer got the part, and the rest is history.
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