“It was nice to know I wasn’t dead. Well, he wouldn’t be, would he?” said McDiarmid on the podium. He continued:
A lot of people said, ‘You can’t bring him back, he was dead! Have you seen this fall? How could anyone survive that?’ Forgiveness… [audience laughs] He is the emperor of the universe. However, no one will tell me they didn’t have a plan B should someone – unlikely as they might have thought – manage to half-destroy him. And of course he had the best operating room team of surgeons, they were very small but they were very thorough, maybe you remember the movie. And he had the best money could buy that enforcement could produce. And he also had this wonderful galactic wheelchair, which was a huge advantage.”
McDiarmid then went on to reveal that the Emperor originally looked worse in The Rise of Skywalker. The original design included a bad arm and hoses coming out of his head. Although in the end the production decided to make all the elaborate machinery that holds the Emperor together less visible, similar to the prosthetics used by Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Given how many years have passed since his encounter with his former apprentice, it’s possible that Palpatine started out with all the extra accoutrements and then over time reduced them to what we saw on screen.
Regardless of how you felt about the execution of Return of the Emperor in the trilogy sequel, Ian McDiarmid deserves his roses for portraying the greatest evil in the entire galaxy. Whether he reappears in another Star Wars project or not, he still managed to present the perfect portrayal of ultimate evil. Or at least one has to respect the work he puts into his craft to have such an answer ready for a fanbase that is sometimes passionate beyond measure. Anyway, maybe this clears up some of the long-standing confusion surrounding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for our readers out there.