Longtime Star Wars actor Ian McDiarmid, who portrayed Emperor Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious throughout the Skywalker Saga, could be making a return to the galaxy far, far away in the very near future -- at least in some capacity.
As reported by Star Wars News Net, McDiarmid recently made an appearance at the Imperial Commissary Collectors Convention (ICCC), during which he discussed the prospect of reprising his role as Emperor Palpatine. "There's a certain show coming soon set right around the time I may have considered to be very active," he said. "Whether or not you will see my physical body, I cannot comment on. But you will certainly feel my presence." McDiarmid is most likely referring to the fast-approaching Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, the could also possibly be referring to the upcoming Rogue One prequel series Andor.
While McDiarmid's language suggests that his character might not physically appear in either show, it does seem as though he's involved in Star Wars' on-screen future to some extent. Notably, there are multiple ways Palpatine could potentially factor into a show like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Andor, such as a voice cameo by McDiarmid, a semi-physical appearance via hologram or perhaps even a full-on surprise physical cameo.
At any rate, both shows take place during the height of Emperor Palpatine's power -- between the events of the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy -- meaning his influence will likely permeate throughout them regardless. Obi-Wan Kenobi is set roughly 10 years after the events of 2005's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and nine years before the events of the original Star Wars film from 1977, also known as A New Hope. Meanwhile, Andor is set roughly five years before the events of the 2016 anthology film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story(and, by extension, A New Hope), which would place it about four years after Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Palpatine showing up in Obi-Wan Kenobi would make a lot of sense, as in addition to featuring Ewan McGregor's long-awaited return as Obi-Wan himself, the show will also feature the return of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Palpatine's Sith apprentice and Obi-Wan's former Jedi apprentice. If McDiarmid does indeed appear in the series, it would mark his first on-screen reunion with Christensen since Revenge of the Sith.
Furthermore, McDiarmid previously floated the idea of Palpatine making an appearance in Obi-Wan Kenobi. "I think I have to accept that, thanks to my ungrateful granddaughter, my annihilation was finally final," the actor told Metro earlier this year, referring to the events of the 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. "[But] of course [Darth] Vader is back in the new [Obi-Wan Kenobi] television series, so I suppose it's not impossible that one day his mentor might be discovered once again skulking in the shadows."
That said, there is evidence to suggest Palpatine might also be lurking behind-the-scenes in Andor, which sees Diego Luna reprise his role as Rebel spy Cassian Andor from Rogue One. According to recent rumors, Andor will feature both the Emperor's Royal Guard, Palpatine's personal security detail, and Mas Amedda, Palpatine's right-hand man. However, this by no means guarantees an appearance by the Emperor himself.
McDiarmid first portrayed the Emperor in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, with the character having previously been played by Marjorie Eaton and voiced by Clive Revill in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. McDiarmid's version of Palpatine was later added to the 2004 DVD release of Empire.
McDiarmid reprised his role as Palpatine in the Prequel Trilogy, playing the character in all three films from 1999 to 2005. Most recently, he reprised the role once more in 2019's The Rise of Skywalker, the third and final film in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, in which he was revealed to be the grandfather of Rey (Daisy Ridley). He also voiced Palpatine in episodes of the Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres its first two episodes on Disney+ on Friday, May 27. Meanwhile, Andor is expected to arrive later this year, and is reportedly targeting an August premiere.