After being name-dropped in The Mandalorian, it’s now almost certain that a live-action Grand Admiral Thrawn is coming soon to Star Wars. First introduced in Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, the Imperial military strategist quickly became one of the most fearsome villains in the extended universe and a firm fan favorite. As such, it wasn’t a huge surprise when he was brought into the Disney canon in the third season of Star Wars Rebels.
In the current continuity, Thrawn was last seen being carried into hyperspace along with Ezra. The pair’s whereabouts are unclear, though we know at least the big bad is still alive as Ahsoka’s ongoing mission is to hunt him down. This means he’s probably set to be the antagonist of the recently unveiled Ahsoka Tano Disney+ show and folks are eagerly wondering who’s going to step into his impeccably tailored uniform.
Fandom recently ran a poll to see who was most popular choice for the part. Michael Fassbender came in third and Lars Mikkelsen (who voices the animated Thrawn) ended up in second, but the clear favorite was Doctor Strange and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.
Personally, I have no doubt that Cumberbatch would knock the cold, calculating character out of the park. He’s built a career on playing the smartest guy in the room and given that Thrawn’s intelligence and perceptive abilities are his defining features, it’d be a good match. The problem is that he might be a bit too busy with MCU work. He’s currently shooting Spider-Man 3 and when that wraps, the actor looks set to jump straight into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
At this point, it’s more likely that Lars Mikkelsen reprises the role from Rebels, especially as The Mandalorian has already kept Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan. Then again, the Thrawn actor might be someone the fans haven’t considered yet. In any case, let’s just hope that whoever they pick has the dramatic chops to do one of the best bad guys in Star Wars justice.