When Star Wars: Episode IX went into production, long before they titled it The Rise of Skywalker, rumors were rampant that former Doctor Who star Matt Smith was going to be in the film. And these rumors came from very reliable sources. But when the cast list came out, Smith was absent, so fans hoped he had a secret cameo. But when the film came out in December 2019, the actor was nowhere to be found. Were those rumors all nonsense? Turns out, not so much.
In an interview with Josh Horowitz of the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Smith admitted at long last that he did in fact have meetings with Lucasfilm for a role in the movie. But something changed during preproduction, and he never shot a single scene. You can watch the snippet of the interview discussing Star Wars right here:
Remember those reports that Matt Smith was going to be in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER? He told me his role was a big deal, representing “a big shift in the history of the [STAR WARS] franchise.”— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) November 3, 2021
WHO WAS HE GOING TO PLAY?!
Full video chat at https://t.co/e84WokCDhq pic.twitter.com/JGKiwPSba9
“We were close to me being in it. The thing they were thinking of me for, eventually the part became obsolete and they didn’t need it,” Smith said. He added, “It was a pretty groovy part and concept. It was a big thing. A big story detail. A transformative Star Wars story detail. It was a big shift in the history of the franchise.”
There’s much speculation about who Smith was going to play, and he didn’t leave too many clues in that interview. A Lucasfilm NDA is a Lucasfilm NDA, after all. And no doubt, Smith would probably like to work in the Star Wars universe at some point down the line, and doesn’t want to ruin his chances. However, we have some pretty good guesses as to who he was likely to play. (Reminder: these are just guesses).
Remember the scene at the end of the film, where the decrepit Emperor Palpatine saps the unique Force energy from Kylo Ren and Rey and makes himself younger? Well, we have a feeling he was originally meant to become much younger. Say, younger than actor Ian McDiarmid was in the prequels. And for that, they probably wanted a younger actor. And Matt Smith certainly fits the bill. Since the novelization of The Rise of Skywalker explains that Darth Sidious’ “son” (and Rey’s dad) was a failed Palpatine clone, chances are that he would have been pulling double duty.
Lucasfilm probably realized that if audiences were going to get Palpatine back, they would only want to see one actor in the part, and that’s McDiarmid. And honestly, that was a good call. However, the future of Star Wars on Disney+ is vast. There’s almost no way Lucasfilm doesn’t tackle the origins of Sheev Palpatine and his journey as a Sith Lord at some point. Especially with all the hints about Palpatine’s backstory with his master, Darth Plagueis in Revenge of the Sith. And if Matt Smith gets that role, we think few fans would complain much.
Featured Image: BBC