Outside of 3D re-releases and the upcoming film based on Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), the live-action side of the Star Wars franchise has been absent for quite a few years. There’s the animated Clone Wars film and current ongoing series, but not much for long-time fans of the two trilogies.
With George Lucas unable to keep away from having direct control over each Star Wars film and him admitting he’s done with blockbuster movies, the one hope fans have left for a live-action Star Wars (in the foreseeable future, anyway) is the long-in-development television series that was first announced seven years ago. If that does happens and Emperor Palpatine is a part of it, Ian McDiarmid would love to reprise the role.
There are over 50 hours of scripts for the live-action Star Wars television series ready to go, telling a story that takes place in between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope that would follow the criminal underworld and political struggle resulting from the events of the prequel trilogy. The only reason production hasn’t begun (yet) is simply a matter of budgeting. The special effects required to bring the live-action Star Wars series to life makes the show too expensive for modern tech and Lucas and co. are waiting for technological innovation that will make shooting the show cost effective.
Depending on how involved the leadership of the Empire is in the ongoing story, the timeline is right for Emperor Palpatine to at least make an appearance somewhere in the series. While attending Star Wars Celebration VI, his first time at the convention which takes place every few years, Ian McDiarmid took part in a Q&A sessions where he told stories about the production, other actors he shared the screen with throughout the Star Wars series and even the future (specifically, the live-action TV series).
“It would be nice if one day they would be followed up…who knows? Who knows if Palpatine would be in it? It could be like A New Hope. There could be a terrific representative — and by god, Peter Cushing was a terrific actor — doing the emperor’s bidding. If he happened to pop up in the script I would hate if it was to go live and someone else were to be in it.”
Cushing of course, played Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars.
The Star Wars TV series – whenever it gets made – will be chock full of easter eggs and references to the films, books and extended universe. In doing what they can to make the show original, yet fit within the continuity established in the films, expect Lucas and producer Rick McCallum to ensure a few guest appearances take place. Due to the heavy use of prosthetics, Palpatine may be one of the easier characters to bring back without noticing any change in the character’s age so it’s very possible that Ian McDiarmid may once again suit up to preach about the dark side of the force.
For now, fans looking forward to a more adult-focused Star Wars experience can keep their eyes peeled for the upcoming Star Wars 1313 by LucasArts, a video game that’s being produced with the help of Skywalker Sound, Lucasfilm Animation and ILM. Star Wars Celebration VI runs until Sunday, August 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.