A new Star Wars: Episode IX rumor claims Matt Smith is playing a young Sheev Palpatine in the movie. The Doctor Who alum is one of several newcomers to the galaxy far, far away appearing in the upcoming film, joining the cast over the summer in what was described only as a "key role." In typical Lucasfilm fashion, plot details for the sequel trilogy finale are being kept firmly under wraps, which means not much is known about all the fresh faces that will be popping up. Still, fans are nevertheless eager to learn what they can.
Palpatine, of course, was the overarching big bad of the first six episodes in the Skywalker saga. He assumed control of the Galactic Republic in the prequels and transformed it into the Empire. Though he was long dead by the time The Force Awakens continued the narrative, his influence was still felt as the First Order obviously molded themselves in the old Empire's image. And if the latest is to be believed, Palpatine may have more of a presence next December.
During the "Hot Scoop or Shot of Poop" segment during the latest episode of The Weekly Planet Podcast, it was stated Smith may portray a young Palpatine in Episode IX. It's worth mentioning this information came from an anonymous source and is, at this point, strictly a rumor.
While fans should definitely keep their grains of salt handy in this instance, it's still a very intriguing possibility to discuss. The biggest matter is figuring out how exactly Palpatine would return. It's possible Episode IX will incorporate flashbacks, or J.J. Abrams pulls a page from Legends and makes Palpatine clones canon. The Weekly Planet Podcast also mentioned Star Wars Rebels introduced the concept of time travel to the franchise, so perhaps that makes its way into the films. As illustrated by Solo's infamous Maul cameo, Lucasfilm isn't afraid to directly connect the TV shows and the movies and this would be a fascinating way to tie multiple corners of canon together. That being said, Dave Filoni has stated he hopes the device doesn't become a permanent fixture in Star Wars. This would be a radical departure from the norm for a "course correction" movie, meaning Abrams might have something else in mind.
There's also a case to be made that bringing back Palpatine would undermine key developments in the first two sequel trilogy installments, most notably The Last Jedi. It seems as if Kylo Ren is poised to be Episode IX's primary villain, as he's reached the point of no return and is the galaxy's ultimate evil. It's one thing to have Kylo constantly bicker with General Hux, but throwing a new Palpatine into the mix would threaten to take attention away from Kylo's arc. It would all boil down to execution, but it might be for the best if Smith was playing an entirely new character and Abrams left Palpatine to rest in peace.
Source: The Weekly Planet Podcast