You might think that Ian McDiarmid would be the oldest member of the original Star Wars trilogy cast, as his character — the evil Emperor Palpatine — isn’t exactly a young buck in “Return of the Jedi.” In reality, the actor is only 79 years old. He wasn’t even 40 when he first appeared in the role, leaving plenty of time for him to reprise the villain in the prequel trilogy and “The Rise of Skywalker.”
Though he’s dabbled in other screen roles apart from Star Wars, McDiarmid has primarily been a stage actor and director. The Scottish thespian has continued to perform on stage and via audio dramas, still showing a preference for Shakespeare, but he’s admittedly less active these days. Given the incredible career that he’s built, that’s more than understandable.
As far as his Star Wars legacy goes, McDiarmid seems to be nothing but appreciative and content. “As a kid, I always wanted to be the baddie,” he said in a 2021 interview with The Guardian. “As he gets older, he gets more destructive. In the last movie, he defied death, which was great to play … What’s fascinating is that he never went away from those movies; his ghastly presence ran them. I get a strange satisfaction from that.” McDiarmid must still enjoy playing Darth Sidious, as he’s returned several times to voice him in shows like “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” and “Tales of the Jedi.”