Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthAugust 11, 1944
MarkEmperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films
FactIn an odd twist of fate, he played an elderly, disfigured Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), and then went on to play a younger version of that character, some 20 years later, in the Star Wars prequels.

Ian McDiarmid was born on August 11, 1944 in Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. He is the son of William McDiarmid and Mary (née Rankin) McDiarmid. His father was a pharmacist and his mother was a schoolteacher. He has one younger brother, Fraser.

He was educated at Carnoustie High School and the University of St Andrews. He then trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

He began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1970. He has also worked extensively in television and film. He is best known for his role as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films.

He has been married to actress Eileen Atkins since 1985. They have one son, Luke.

His net worth is estimated to be $5 million.

General Info

Full NameIan McDiarmid
Date Of BirthAugust 11, 1944
Height1.78 m
ProfessionActor, Theatre Director
EducationRoyal Conservatoire of Scotland, University of St Andrews


AwardsTony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play, Laurence Olivier Award for Actor of the Year in a New Play, Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actor
NominationsTeen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain, Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play
MoviesStar Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Sleepy Hollow, Dragonslayer, Gorky Park, Annie: A Royal Adventure!, The Awakening, Great E...
TV ShowsUtopia, City of Vice, Touching Evil, Charles II: The Power and The Passion

Social profile links


#Marks / Signs
1Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films
2Often uses a soft-spoken, accented voice


1I don't do the signings and public appearances. A lot of people do and make a lot of money out of them - and good luck to them. I'm not ruling it out forever, though. One day I may be really poor.
2[on his role as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars] To wear the costume to play the character I'm playing is wonderfully empowering. The colors, the textures... people keep coming up to me and saying, "Is it rubber? Is it leather?" I don't quite know what it is. It feels reptilian, which is exactly right.
3That's a pattern I'm very happy with. I mean I take theater seriously and I am primarily a stage actor and every now and again a movie comes along and I'm happy to do it if the part's good.
4And 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.
5[on digitally replacing Clive Revill in the DVD release of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)] George felt that it was just and proper. When he made Empire, we hadn't met, and he didn't have a particular idea of who would play the Emperor or how the character would develop. And he had no notion that he would do the backstory - Episodes I, II, and III. So whoever played the Emperor in a mask and added to Revill's voice wouldn't seem authentic to the people who are going to watch the entire saga in the right order. It wouldn't make any sense. Since I was the Emperor [in the other Star Wars films], it felt appropriate that I should be inserted into Empire, and that's what George did.
6[on his co-star Yoda in the Star Wars films] He's terrible. Never turns up. Sends his funny little dummy that gets moved around... most unprofessional.
7As an actor, you find yourself in many unusual places.


1Appearing, as Stevens, in the BBC Radio 4's adaptation of "The Remains of the Day", starring with Julia Ford, Oliver Ford Davies, Peter Sallis, Anton Lesser, Adrian Scarborough, Garrick Hagon, 'Ed Bishop', 'Tom George', 'Maggie McCarthy', 'Ben Crowe', Deborah Findlay, 'David Shaw-Parker', Becky Hindley and Tracy Wiles. [August 2003]
2Currently starring in the Donmar Warehouse production "Henry IV", now showing at The Bristol Old Vic in Bristol, England. [July 2004]
3Was very good friends with fellow Star Wars cast member Sebastian Shaw.
4Based his character Emperor Palpatine's unusual voice on the Japanese method of using your stomach to project yourself. The result was a strange, guttural croak that Lucas decided was perfect for the character of Palpatine. In an earlier draft of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the Emperor was described as having a voice that was even deeper and more terrifying than Darth Vader's.
5Has appeared in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) with Frank Oz, and then in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), which Oz directed. These films were later turned into an NPR radio broadcast and a Broadway musical, respectively. John Lithgow appeared in both.
6Is the first actor in the Star Wars films to both physically play a Sith Lord, and provide the voice.
7Has appeared in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), which is a remake of Bedtime Story (1964), which starred Marlon Brando. He also appeared in Heart of Darkness (1993), which is based on the Joseph Conrad story of the same name, which was previously filmed as Apocalypse Now (1979), also with Brando.
8His Star Wars character, Senator Palpatine, is believed to have been named after the character Senator Palantine, who appears in the film Taxi Driver (1976). In Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), Palpatine conceals a lightsaber in his sleeve and brings the hilt into his hand when he is about to engage in a fight. As Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro conceals his handgun likewise in Taxi Driver (1976).
9The make-up he had to wear in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) took about two hours to apply and two to take off. By the end of principal photography, the make-up artists had been able to get it on in an hour and a half.
10In 1982, he played Harry Hackamore, a Howard Hughes-type character, in the play, "Seduced", by Sam Shepard. This showed his ability to convincingly play, in close-up, a character much older than himself. This is what attracted the attention of George Lucas and Richard Marquand, who decided that he could play the Emperor in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), which was already in production at the time.
11Attended the University of St. Andrews where he pursued a Master's degree in clinical psychology and the Royal Academy in Glasgow.
12Has appeared with his drama school classmate Denis Lawson in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) and with Lawson's nephew Ewan McGregor in Karaoke (1996), Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
13In an odd twist of fate, he played an elderly, disfigured Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), and then went on to play a younger version of that character, some 20 years later, in the Star Wars prequels.
14He was awarded the 2001 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama) for Best Actor for his performance in "Faith Healer" at the Almeida at King's Cross.
15Serves as Artistic Director of London's Almedia Theatre.




Britannia2017TV Series post-productionKing Pellenor
Utopia2014TV SeriesAnton
37 Days2014TV Mini-SeriesEdward Grey
The Odds2009Short
Margaret2009TV MovieDenis Thatcher
City of Vice2008TV SeriesHenry Fielding
Elizabeth I2005TV Mini-SeriesLord Burghley
Our Hidden Lives2005TV MovieB. Charles
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith2005Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Star Wars: A Musical Journey2005VideoHost
MI-52004TV SeriesProf. Fred Roberts
The Last King2003TV Mini-SeriesSir Edward Hyde
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones2002Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Crime and Punishment2002TV MoviePorfiry
Sleepy Hollow1999Doctor Lancaster
All the King's Men1999TV MovieRev. Pierrepoint Edwards
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace1999Senator Palpatine
Great Expectations1999TV MovieJaggers
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman1997TV SeriesRonald Callender
Touching Evil1997TV SeriesRonald Hinks
Rebecca1997TV Mini-SeriesCoroner
Hillsborough1996TV MovieDoctor Popper, Coroner
Cold Lazarus1996TV Mini-SeriesOliver Morse
Karaoke1996TV Mini-SeriesOliver Morse
Annie: A Royal Adventure!1995TV MovieDr. Eli Eon
Selected Exits1993TV MovieGeorge Devine
Heart of Darkness1993TV MovieDoctor
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles1993TV SeriesProf. Levi
Chernobyl: The Final Warning1991TV MovieDr. Vatisenko
Inspector Morse1990TV SeriesHugo De Vries
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels1988Arthur
Ten Great Writers of the Modern World1988TV Mini-Series documentaryDostoevsky
Summer Season1985TV SeriesMurgatroyd
Gorky Park1983Prof. Andreev
The Nation's Health1983TV SeriesDoctor Vernon Davis
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi1983The Emperor
ITV Playhouse1981TV SeriesFedka
Dragonslayer1981Brother Jacopus
Sir Henry at Rawlinson End1980Reg Smeeton
Richard's Things1980Burglar
The Awakening1980Dr. Richter
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back1980Emperor (2004 DVD version) (uncredited)
A Performance of Macbeth1979TV MovieThe Porter Ross
The Professionals1979TV SeriesMickey Hamilton
The Likely Lads1976Vicar
Red Letter Day1976TV SeriesBlade


The Shape of Things2003special thanks


Star Wars Celebration Live Anaheim 20152015TV Mini-SeriesHimself - Guest
Star Wars: Greatest Moments2015TV Movie documentaryHimself
Words with Warwick2013TV Mini-SeriesHimself
The 60th Annual Tony Awards2006TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Best Featured Actor in a Play
GMTV2006TV SeriesHimself
It's All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III2005Video shortHimself
'Star Wars': Feel the Force2005TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Making of 'Charles II'2003TV Movie documentary
Episode II: Behind the Scenes2002Video documentaryHimself
Sleepy Hollow: Behind the Legend2000Video documentary shortHimself / Dr. Thomas Lancaster
Refuse to Dance: The Theatre of Howard Barker1986TV Movie documentaryHimself

Archive Footage

The Drunken Peasants2015-2016TV SeriesThe Emperor Emperor Palpatine
Edición Especial Coleccionista2014TV SeriesSupreme Chancellor Palpatine The Emperor
5 Second Movies2008TV SeriesEmperor Palpatine Chancellor Palpatine
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Demons of Deception2007VideoProf. Levi
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy2006Video GameEmperor Palpatine (uncredited)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith2005Video GameSupreme Chancellor Palpatine Darth Sidious


Nominated Awards

2006Saturn AwardAcademy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USABest Supporting ActorStar Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
2005Teen Choice AwardTeen Choice AwardsChoice Movie Bad GuyStar Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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