Ian McDiarmid

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Ian McDiarmid
The Emperor Has No Robes.jpg
McDiarmid at 2007 Celebration Europe.
Born(1944-08-11) 11 August 1944 (age 69)
Carnoustie, Scotland, U.K.
OccupationActor, theatre director
Years active1968–present
 
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Ian McDiarmid
The Emperor Has No Robes.jpg
McDiarmid at 2007 Celebration Europe.
Born(1944-08-11) 11 August 1944 (age 69)
Carnoustie, Scotland, U.K.
OccupationActor, theatre director
Years active1968–present

Ian McDiarmid (/məkˈdɜrmɨd/; born 11 August 1944) is a Scottish theatre actor and director, who has also made sporadic appearances on television, and appeared in 47 films since 1976. Internationally, he is perhaps most famous for his role as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars film series.

Early life[edit]

McDiarmid was born in Carnoustie. He became a theatre aficionado when he was five years old, when his father took him to see an act named Tommy Morgan at a theatre in Dundee. In 2004, he stated, "It sort of fascinated me, and it also scared me. All those lights, all that make-up. I said to myself, 'I don't know what this is, but I want it.'"[1] However, fearing his father's disapproval, McDiarmid attended the University of St Andrews, where he received an M.A. in psychology. Soon after, he decided to pursue a career in the theatre instead, and took acting training courses at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. In 1968, McDiarmid received a gold medal for his work, the first of many recognitions given to him for his work in the theatre. McDiarmid claimed he became its recipient "by doing all the boring jobs you have to do when you are young, to eke out an existence."[2]

Theatre[edit]

McDiarmid is renowned for his work in British theatre, having won plaudits as an actor and director from a wide variety of sources. He has starred in a variety of Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet (1972), The Tempest (1974, 2000), Much Ado About Nothing (1976), Ross and the Porter in Trevor Nunn's 1976 Macbeth (television 1978), The Merchant of Venice (1984) and King Lear (2005). From April to June 2012, he played the title role in Timon of Athens at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.[3] He played Ivanov in Tom Stoppard's play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the Mermaid Theatre in 1978.

From 1990, McDiarmid and Jonathan Kent served as the artistic directors of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, London, gaining the commitment of prominent actresses such as Glenda Jackson and Claire Bloom for their productioons.[4] The two men resigned in 2001 with the venue in good shape.[5] In 1998, they shared the Special Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Achievement of the Year.[6] Their tenure was marked by a string of highly successful performances involving actors such as Kevin Spacey and Ralph Fiennes.[7] While connected with the Almeida, McDiarmid directed plays such as Venice Preserv'd (1986) and Hippolytus (1991). In 2002, McDiarmid won Almeida Theatre's Critic's Circle Award for Best Actor for his role as Teddy in a revival of Brian Friel's Faith Healer. Five years later in 2006, he reprised this role in his debut on Broadway.[8] Directed by Kent, he performed alongside Ralph Fiennes and Cherry Jones, and won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.[6] He has appeared most recently in the title role of John Gabriel Borkman, running at the Donmar Theatre in London.

One theatrical performance of note is his portrayal of Harry Hackamore in Sam Shepard's play Seduced. By McDiarmid's own description, Hackamore was a Howard Hughes-type character. To play the part, he was made-up in prosthetics, including a false beard and long fingernails. McDiarmid was only 37 at the time, and this convinced George Lucas and Richard Marquand that he could convincingly play a much older character in extreme cinematic close-up, which helped him land the role of Palpatine.[9]

Star Wars[edit]

McDiarmid as Darth Sidious

After a minor part in the film Dragonslayer, McDiarmid was cast by George Lucas in Return of the Jedi as Emperor Palpatine, the principal villain. Sixteen years after appearing in Return of the Jedi, he reprised the role as the character's younger incarnation of Senator Palpatine and Sith Lord Darth Sidious in the prequel films: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith .

The prequels had him play two faces to his character; he re-created his diabolical interpretation of Palpatine from Return of the Jedi when playing Darth Sidious, the Chancellor's Sith alter ego, but created an attractive, pleasant and seductive character in Palpatine's public persona. While he had previously achieved little recognition for this role, due to the extensive prosthetics used for the character which made him unrecognizable, he received widespread attention and critical acclaim for his expanded role in the prequels.[6]

In the 2004 re-release of The Empire Strikes Back, a brief scene between Darth Vader and a hologram of Emperor Palpatine was updated to include McDiarmid. The Emperor was originally voiced by Clive Revill for that scene, and visually portrayed by Elaine Baker, the wife of make-up designer Rick Baker.[10] With this addition to The Empire Strikes Back, McDiarmid has now appeared in every film version in which Palpatine appears.

He has also worked with the Star Wars Expanded Universe as the voice of Palpatine in the video games: Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and its sequel Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, the video game versions of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and most recently Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron. McDiarmid made a small appearance during Celebration Europe, but on August 23–26, 2012, he attended Celebration VI in Orlando, Florida and had his own show titled The Phantom Menace: Ian McDiarmid, hosted by James Arnold Taylor, in which he talked about his experience working on Star Wars and how he landed the role of Palpatine. Ian McDiarmid also voiced a pig version of Palpatine for a promo video for Angry Birds Star Wars II, entitled "Join the Pork Side".[11]

Television and radio[edit]

McDiarmid took an early role as Mickey Hamilton, a killer intent on avenging the death of his wife and child in The Professionals for Granada. He played the role of police detective Porfiry Petrovich in the BBC's 2002 adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. He starred in an episode of Inspector Morse several years earlier, as psychopathic conman Hugo DeVries. In 2003, McDiarmid took the role of the Stuart statesman Edward Hyde, in the BBC series Charles II: The Power and The Passion.

In 2005, he portrayed the part of Satan in the 41 part BBC Four radio drama based on John Milton's Paradise Lost, which was subsequently re-broadcast on BBC7.[12] Recently, he played the writer and pioneer of policing, Henry Fielding, in the Channel 4 historical drama series City of Vice and Denis Thatcher in 2009's Margaret.

McDiarmid played intelligence chief LeClerc in a 2009 BBC Radio dramatization of John le Carré's The Looking Glass War.

Work in theatre[edit]

Stage appearances[edit]

Stage director[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Theatrical film[edit]

YearFilmRoleOther notes
1976The Likely LadsVicar
1980Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackEmperor PalpatineOnly in post-2004 releases
Sir Henry at Rawlinson EndReg Smeeton
Richard's ThingsBurglar
The AwakeningDr. Richter
1981DragonslayerBrother Jacobus
1983Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the JediEmperor Palpatine
Gorky ParkProf. Andreev
1988Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsArthur
1995RestorationAmbrose
1999Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceSenator/Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Sleepy HollowDr. Thomas Lancaster
2002Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the ClonesChancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
2005Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the SithChancellor/Emperor Palpatine/Darth SidiousNominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Bad Guy
2009The Oddsunknown(Short)

Television[edit]

YearTV SeriesRoleNumber of episodesOther notes
1976Red Letter DayBlade1 episode
1978Crown CourtGreg Gorgon1 episode
1979MacbethRoss & the Porter
The ProfessionalsMickey Hamilton1 episode
1981ITV PlayhouseFedka1 episode
1983The Nation's HealthDoctor Vernon Davis4 episodes
1985Pity in HistoryMurgatroyd
1988The Modern World: Ten Great WritersFyodor Dostoyevsky1 episode
1990Inspector MorseHugo De Vries1 episode
1991Chernobyl: The Final WarningDr. Vatisenko
1993The Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesProf. Levi1 episode
Heart of DarknessDoctor
Selected Exitsunknown
1995Annie: A Royal Adventure!Dr. Eli Eon
1996KaraokeOliver Morse4 episodes
Cold LazarusOliver Morse1 episode
HillsboroughDr. Popper
1997An Unsuitable Job for a WomanRonald Callender1 episode
RebeccaCoroner
1999Great ExpectationsJaggers
All the King's MenRev. Pierrepoint Edwards
2002Crime and PunishmentPorfiry Petrovich
2003Charles II: The Power and The PassionSir Edward Hyde
2004SpooksProf. Fred Roberts1 episode
2005Our Hidden LivesB. Charles
Elizabeth ILord Burghley2 episodesAlongside Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons
2008City of ViceHenry Fielding5 episodes
2009MargaretDennis Thatcher
201437 DaysSir Edward Grey

Video games[edit]

YearVideo GameRoleOther notes
1993Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes BackEmperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious(voice)
1994Super Star Wars: Return of the JediEmperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious(voice)
2005Lego Star Wars: The Video GameEmperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious(voice)
2006Lego Star Wars II: The Original TrilogyEmperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious(voice)
2007Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade SquadronEmperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious(CGI model)
2010Star Wars Battlefront: Elite SquadronEmperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious(CGI model)

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAwardWork
1968Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Gold Medal (won)
1982Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a New Play (won)Insignificance[disambiguation needed]
1985Time Out Comedy Awards for Directing (won)Scenes From An Execution
1990Time Out Comedy Awards for Directing (won)Volpone
1991Observer Awards for Outstanding Achievement for Ten Years of Presenting Irish Drama (nominated)Volpone, The Rehearsal, and Betrayal Field
1995Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actor (won)Hated Nightfall
1998Special Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Achievement of the Year (shared with Jonathan Kent)
2001Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Theatre Actor (won)Faith Healer
2002Clarence Derwent Award for Best Supporting Actor (won)Faith Healer
2004Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actor (won)
Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Actor (won)
Henry IV
2005Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Actor (won)King Lear
2006Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance (nominated)
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play (nominated)
Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance (won)
Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play (won)
Faith Healer

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simon Hattenstone (17 December 2001). "Force for change". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2006. 
  2. ^ Star Wars Actors Database at Nerf-Herders-Anonymous.net. Retrieved 23 August 2006.
  3. ^ "Timon of Athens", Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Retrieved 2013-06-12.
  4. ^ Matt Wolf "Theater; A New London Theater Team Is Attracting Stars", New York Times, 11 March 1990
  5. ^ Michael Billington "'Our time had come'", The Guardian, 5 September 2001
  6. ^ a b c Ian McDiarmid at Hollywood.com. Retrieved 23 October 2006.
  7. ^ Fiachra Gibbons (5 September 2001). "Celebrated double act quits Almeida theatre". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2006. 
  8. ^ Simi Horwitz (5 September 2001). "The Emperor's New Role". BackStage. Retrieved 24 October 2006. [dead link]
  9. ^ Ian McDiarmid at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
  10. ^ "Yoda was originally played by a monkey in a mask, and other secrets of The Empire Strikes Back". io9. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  11. ^ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151964584639928&set=a.428114379927.205212.314467614927&type=1&theater
  12. ^ Ed Pettit (23 November 2006). "Of Man's first disobedience". Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2007. 
  13. ^ "Round House and Open Space, theatre companies: Catalogue of records in the Victoria and Albert Museum: Theatre Collections", Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2013-06-12.

External links[edit]