Fans have a lot of unanswered questions going into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. So many, in fact, that we’ve kind of forgotten about one that occupied our thoughts quite a lot about a year ago. Last August, it was reported that Doctor Who star Matt Smith was swapping the TARDIS for a Death Star and was set to appear in Episode IX, which caused sci-fi fans everywhere to explode. There were various theories at the time about who he could be playing, too, as the initial reports claimed he was cast in a “key role.”
The speculation started to cool down, though, when Smith shut down stories that said he was in the movie back in April, which was soon followed by his name being removed from Rise‘s cast list on Disney’s official UK site. We started to wonder whether he’d been cut from the film, just as the odd supporting character was removed from the theatrical release of The Force Awakens. However, maybe we should look to another J.J. Abrams movie for the true story: Star Trek Into Darkness.
ScreenRant has raised the point that the secrecy surrounding Smith’s casting recalls how Abrams insisted Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t playing Khan in his 2012 Trek flick. Obviously, that didn’t really do the trick as we all worked out that he was, anyway. So, what if Abrams has gone even further this time and tried to downplay that Smith is even in the movie at all. The reason? Because like Cumberbatch in Trek, Smith is playing Rise’s main villain, Emperor Palpatine.
This theory has been touted before, of course, in many different forms. Perhaps Smith plays a clone of the villain. Or a Knight of Ren who’s possessed by his spirit. Or maybe just as a younger Palpatine in flashback scenes.
Either way, what if telling us anything about Smith’s involvement now would give us some fuel as to how Darth Sidious returns? After all, we’ve only heard Ian McDiarmid’s voice in the trailers and haven’t seen his physical presence. Perhaps Smith plays him for most of the runtime, then?
All will be revealed when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in 100 days’ time, on December 20th.