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Why Ian McDiarmid Calls Palpatine's Hated Star Wars Return 'Strangely Satisfying'

Perhaps the most controversial plot turn in the 2019 blockbuster "Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker" is the return of Ian McDiarmid's Sith villain, Emperor Palpatine. The character, after all, dies in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" after an ailing Darth Vader (David Prowse and James Earl Jones) tosses him down a chasm into a reactor of Death Star II to save his son Luke (Mark Hamill) from being killed by the emperor's Force lightning. As such, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas was reportedly angry about Palpatine's return in "The Rise of Skywalker," and fans on online forums like Reddit hated the move — especially Poe Dameron's unintentionally comedic line, "Somehow, Palpatine returned."

Despite the controversy, McDiarmid told Empire in an issue celebrating the 25th anniversary of the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy that he reveled in his return to the legendary role, because it enhanced the lore of the villainous character.

"The thing that I'm most pleased about, and you know, this only came to a head when they asked me to come back for 'The Rise Of Skywalker,' is that every single evil act in all of the 'Star Wars' franchise is either directly or indirectly down to that character," McDiarmid told Empire. "That is total evil, and that's strangely satisfying as an arc. I do feel fortunate to have been able to do it — and other villains of cinema now have to compete with that."

McDiarmid was okay with Abrams reviving Palpatine in Episode IX

Ian McDiarmid, of course, is one of the few actors to appear in all three of the "Star Wars" movie trilogies, along with C3PO actor Anthony Daniels, the only performer to appear in all nine films.

McDiarmid played Senator Sheev Palpatine at the beginning of the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy before his transformation into the Emperor, a role he played in the original trilogy until the character's demise in "Return of the Jedi." Palpatine's death, of course, was the major sticking point regarding the character's return in "The Rise of Skywalker."

The veteran actor, however, was keen to point out that Palpatine does have a certain skill that made it all possible, even though Palpatine's death seemed to seal the character's fate. "A lot of people said it was ridiculous," McDiarmid told Empire of Palpatine's return. "Of course, he was dead at the end of 'Return Of The Jedi'! And frankly, I think George thought he'd killed me too. But J.J. [Abrams] thought it would be a good idea — I wasn't going to argue with him. I felt that Palpatine always had a plan B — probably a plan C, D, E, and F as well. And he was an expert in cloning, so."

Palpatine's return also serves as a plot function in "The Rise of Skywalker," as it's revealed that the trilogy's Jedi hero, Rey (Daisy Ridley), is the granddaughter of the feared emperor.