Could Matt Smith Have Played Young Palpatine? - Comic Years
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Could Matt Smith Have Played Young Palpatine in Rise Of Skywalker?

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BY November 8, 2021

Somehow, Palpatine returned, and he wasted all that time building a fleet of deus ex machina when he could have been using force science to shove his brain into a new body. And that new body could have been Matt Smith. Rise of Skywalker had a lot of work to do to finish the Skywalker story, and apparently that meant there wasn’t room for a character who was to be played by Matt Smith. We must take time to mourn this loss. 

Who Would Matt Smith Have Been in Rise of Skywalker?

In the interview with Josh Horowitz where this all came out, Smith doesn’t directly state who he would have played. He does say that it was the kind of role that would have been a “transformative Star Wars detail.” When asked if the role was going to be Palpatine’s son, Smith said he “could not possibly say” which sounds like a coy way of saying “I have an NDA with the mouse and want to keep my kneecaps.”

So naturally people are wondering if Matt Smith was supposed to play some version of Sheev Palpatine. Before the part “became obsolete” maybe Palpatine’s dark secret science wasn’t cloning, it was a rejuvenating lotion that would have returned him to his young, vigorous body before the weight of the senate crushed him down. Or, instead of cloning Snokes, maybe this story had Palpatine making little Palpatines to transfer his brain into. Matt Smith would have been the right age for a version of Palpatine younger than what we saw in the prequels. Maybe when this version sucks the power from Rey and Ben, instead of repairing his body, it would just give him abs. That would explain why Smith described the role as “groovy.” How many Saturn Awards would Rise of Skywalker win with ripped Palpatine? (Answer: Not enough.)

Why Wasn’t Matt Smith in Star Wars

It just didn’t happen. Smith was in meetings discussing the part, but there was never a costume and clearly the story evolved without him. This leaves us with two things, one painful and one positive. 

Matt Smith Rise of Skywalker Image via Marvel Entertainment

The pain is that we’ll never see Palpatine talking to Rey in a hall full of test tube Snokes. We’ll never see a massive tube of red goo holding Matt Smith’s suspended body connected to a bunch of wires and electrodes. We can’t see Palpatine reveal to Rey his master plan, to inhabit the young, buff body behind him. Rey would tell him it won’t happen, that she’ll stop him. Then Palpatine would say “I’m afraid this body is quite operational.” And then he’d force throw his brain into a tube and become Matt Smith. We didn’t get that scene, and that loss deserves dedicating mourning time. 

The good news is that Matt Smith can still be in Star Wars! He could return as a young Palpatine in a later film, or he could pop up in any other role. If we got Bill Burr in Mandalorian, anything is possible.

Who do you think Matt Smith would have played in Rise of Skywalker? Send us your best theories in the comments below or talk to us on social media.

Featured image via Lucasfilm

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Jessica Kanzler is a freelance writer and editor who lives with her wife and cats. Jessica has bad taste in tv and an MA in Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media studies. Talk to her about Frasier on Twitter @Jessicaakanzler


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