Turns Out The Emperor's Laugh In The Rise Of Skywalker Trailer Was Old Footage

Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars
(Image credit: (Lucasfilm))

Last week, fans were finally treated to the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, and were clued into some exciting news – the return of Emperor Palpatine to the franchise. At the end of the teaser for the over-40-year saga's final film, titled The Rise of Skywalker, an iconic maniacal laugh flooded the convention room floor. Right after that, Darth Sidious himself, Ian McDiarmid, took the stage to confirm his involvement and say "roll it again" to the uproarious fans at the event and watching at home.

But apparently Emperor Palpatine’s grand re-entrance to Star Wars was not an exclusive bit he helped bring to life for the new trailer (and movie?). Check out what Ian McDiarmid recently said:

That particular laugh was not specially recorded. They found it somewhere, probably from one of the old movies or in a digital vault, or maybe George’s iPhone, I don’t know.

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I don’t know about you, but this bit of information is conflicting to me. If Palpatine is in the movie, why would they dig up an old laugh track of the actor’s voice from George Lucas' movies? Was the inclusion of the moment purely to inject that nostalgia in our veins – wait, will Ian McDiarmid even be in Rise of Skywalker at all?

Once I give this a bit more thought, my guess is: Yes, Emperor Palpatine will be back. (How can he not after that teaser reveal?) But maybe the inclusion of that specific laugh was just a means of getting the fans to identify the character’s return. The recycled laugh could still be a component of the movie, or maybe Palpatine isn’t quite as chipper in the upcoming Star Wars installment. In fact we don’t even know if he’ll actually be alive or not in the film.

Empire Magazine writer James Dyer, who was at SWCC, did take to Twitter to seemingly confirm that Ian McDiarmid was physically on the set of Rise of Skywalker. He confirmed the return via an interview with director J.J. Abrams, per this post:

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During Ian McDiarmid’s interview at the Star Wars Celebration Chicago, the actor discussed why he particularly loved the trailer he got to be part of revealing:

What I liked about it, though, that’s why I think it is a real tease. I mean, the new title The Rise of Skywalker is wonderful, and then from the past, maybe from Hell a laughter comes, which sort of implies 'yeah right.' So in other words, Skywalkers’ rising? I don’t think so.

Of course, Ian McDiarmid can’t say anything about his role in the trailer and movie and has to play a little dumb during an interview such as this one. He does perhaps reiterate how the heroes in the new film may have to face Palpatine and of course The Dark Side. Since Snoke was killed off in The Last Jedi, and Kylo Ren has been struggling with his place as either a hero with a redemption story or the new trilogy’s main villain, it makes sense for Palpatine’s comeback to take place in a big way. Although the Star Wars actor is playing a villain with a quote like this one:

The headline of that whole panel and the trailer is the word 'tease.' So don’t take it too seriously - in fact, have a laugh about it.

How dare you tell us to laugh, Ian McDiarmid! Star Wars is serious business and not at all for our entertainment! If you need a refresher on the villain, check out our guide to everything you need to know about him. Start the countdown, as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.