Palpatine, Darth Sidious, and simply The Emperor have all been used to refer to the villain of the nine-episode saga. He’s also been played by several different actors. Here are all Emperor Palpatine actors and what they brought to the role in Star Wars.
1. Robert Martin Klein and Trevor Duvall gave voice to Palpatine in LEGO Star Wars animations
LEGO Star Wars started as a video game, but the franchise has since expanded to include animation. The Emperor has appeared in several of these specials, including Robert Martin Klein and Trevor Duvall, who have given his voice. This type of comedy has a lot of room in the Star Wars universe, especially since the franchise’s target audience is kids.
2. McDiarmid impression by Sam Witwer
The actor pulls off a convincing Palpatine impersonation. He played the hero, and the villain in The Force Unleashed because of his dual roles as Starkiller and Palpatine. Witwer is a huge Star Wars fan, so he came up with some improvised lines to better reflect the Emperor’s personality.
3. Tim Curry stepped in after Abercrombie’s death
The Clone Wars recruited Tim Curry to give voice to Palpatine for portions of Seasons 5 and 6 after Abercrombie passed. Curry excelled at playing the sadistic relish of Darth Sidious but wasn’t as convincing as Chancellor Palpatine, while Abercrombie felt more natural when he was amiable and kindly.
4. Ian Abercrombie was Palpatine’s first voice on The Clone Wars
Before his death in 2012, Ian Abercrombie voiced Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Abercrombie was clearly more at ease in the role of Palpatine’s mask, and while his Sidious wasn’t bad, he was still scarier when cloaking his threat rather than being open about it.
5. Palpatine was voiced by Nick Jameson in some early animation and video games
Nick Jameson was the voice of Palpatine for the Star Wars media at the beginning of the 2000s. In a handful of video games, Jameson voiced Darth Sidious. “Chancellor Palpatine” and “Darth Sidious” were the two sides of the person Jameson spoke. Jameson ensured he distinguished the two
6. Palpatine is embodied by Ian McDiarmid in a way that few actors can match
Ian McDiarmid is a perfect fit for the part. He did, after all, deliver the most important aspect of Palpatine’s presence: his voice. Lucas wanted McDiarmid to mimic Revill’s flat intonations at first. McDiarmid’s raspy, echoing drawl and inhuman cackle were a perfect complement to his character’s wrinkled, toad-like appearance. This quality of his voice quickly won over Lucas.
7. Marjorie Eaton played the Emperor, and Clive Revil gave his voice
The Emperor did not make his first semi-physical appearance until The Empire Strikes Back. For this short scene, a heavily made-up Marjorie Eaton played the role of the Emperor, Clive Revill dubbed the voice. He delivered his lines without emotion or inflection.