Happy Birthday, Ian McDiarmid

August 11, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Birthday | Leave a comment

Today Roqoo Depot wishes actor Ian McDiarmid a very happy birthday. For Star Wars fans, Mr. McDiarmid is most famous for playing the role of Palpatine, be it Emperor or Senator, in five of the six Star Wars films.

Ian was born in Carnoustie, Scotland. At an early age he developed a love for acting, but ended up studying for a M.A. in Clinical Psychology at the University of St. Andrews. Later he switched to theater at the Royal Academy of Glasgow. He focused on theater and starred in many Shakespearean plays, winning numerous awards. From 1990 to 2001, he was also the Joint Artistic Director of London’s Almeida Theatre. His role as Harry Hackamore in the play Seduced (1982) netted the attention of George Lucas. and Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand. After seeing the play, both were impressed with McDiarmid’s portrayal of a much older character.

Another interesting bit of Return of the Jedi trivia is that Emperor Palpatine’s name is believed to be inspired by the character Senator Palantine in the movie Taxi Driver. Another homage to Taxi Driver is when Emperor Palpatine reveals Luke’s lightsaber by sliding it out of his sleeve, just like Robert De Niro’s character reveals a hidden pistol.

For Ewan McGregor fans, you might not have known that one of Ian’s drama school classmates was one of Ewan McGregor’s uncles, Denis Lawson, who also played Wedge Antilles in all three of the Original Trilogy films.

McDiarmid went on to play Palpatine in all three films of the prequel trilogy, and with the 2004 re-release of The Empire Strikes Back, he was added in as the Emperor in order to maintain consistency. Originally the Emperor’s part in The Empire Strikes back was played by Elaine Baker with superemposed Chimpanzee eyes and Clive Revill providing the voice.

Before and after of the Emperor’s scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

“And then of course I thought Palpatine was a pretty good character. I like the notion that he didn’t have any psychological subtlety or depth, that he was just solidly evil and the dirtiest word in his vocabulary was ‘friend’. I thought that was terrific.” –Ian McDiarmid

The Empeor as seen in Return of the Jedi, and Revenge of the Sith

Aside from Star Wars and theater, McDiarmid has been in over a dozen films. His first film role was in The Likely Lads, a 1976 British comedy. He was also in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Although there aren’t any more Star Wars movies on the horizon, fans can look forward to seeing Palpatine return in the upcoming expanded universe novel Darth Plagueis.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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