Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was not a great movie. It was rushed, lacking in polish and ― via The Skywalker Legacy documentary ― was thrown together on the fly. Because of its rushed, volatile development, multiple storylines for the film were scrapped, including one involving Doctor Who actor Matt Smith.
Matt Smith discusses cancelled Rise of Skywalker role
In an interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt Smith confirmed his involvement in the film. The Doctor Who actor was still vague about his role in the movie, only that it was integral to the story. Furthermore, Smith’s character was said to be “transformative” to the entire Star Wars mythos.
When asked to elaborate on his role, Smith said:
"I could not possibly say, but it was a pretty groovy thing. It was a big story detail, like a, you know, transformative Star Wars story detail but it never quite got over the line. It was a big shift in the history of the franchise... there was no costume (test), there were a couple of meetings to talk about it. Maybe I can come back, you never know.”
Who was he going to play?
After Colin Trevarro left Episode 9, the J.J. Abrams project immediately turned back to Emperor Palpatine for the film’s villain. However, all planned versions of Palpatine during development were clones of the Original Trilogy version.
It makes sense then that Matt Smith could’ve been a younger version of The Emperor. While this would still rely on old tropes (Abrams’ specialty), it would’ve still offered something new for long-time viewers. Additionally, Smith could’ve played Rey’s father
With that said, Smith’s wariness to discuss his cancelled role suggests that there is space for him to return. Whether as a younger Palpatine, a new Sith, the ever-mysterious Darth Plagueis or something else, it would likely be fun.