A Guide to Ian McDiarmid Movies and TV Shows


A Guide to Ian McDiarmid Movies and TV Shows

A Guide to Ian McDiarmid Movies and TV Shows

Ian McDiarmid isn’t physically imposing in the flesh. With his trademark sly voice and expert delivery, his characters can be smooth and sinister at the same time. While he is best known for playing Darth Vader’s Emperor, his other movie and television work is worth watching.


By playing the mysterious scientist Philip Carvel, Ian McDiarmid adds a whole new dimension to this British fantasy series. Carvel believed that humanity had to be culled if it was to survive. In support of that belief, he created the Janus project to sterilize Earth’s population over time. He made and charged the organization known as The Network to carry on his work. In the modern day, a tiny group of people set out to discover the secrets of The Network and stop it before it’s too late.

37 Days

In this historical miniseries, Ian McDiarmid plays Sir Edward Grey, a statesman who heads the Foreign Office and plays witness to the small events that led to World War I. McDiarmid plays Grey in an understated way that’s completely convincing. The series ran over three episodes showing the perspectives of the major players from Germany, Austria, France and Great Britain.

City of Vice

McDiarmid co-stars with Ian Glen in this British crime drama that takes place in the 18th century. The two play London magistrates who develop a fledgling police force called the Bow Street Runners. The five-episode run sees the brothers dealing with blackmail, kidnapping and robberies against the backdrop of 1753 London.

Ian McDiarmid

Star Wars Series

Ian McDiarmid’s first appearance as the Emperor was in 1983’s Return of the Jedi (he was edited into The Empire Strikes Back 2004 DVD release). Besides reviewing the last phase of the Death Star’s construction, he was there to turn Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force. The Emperor’s death did not mean McDiarmid’s involvement was over. George Lucas had other plans.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

For the Star Wars prequels, McDiarmid was cast as the charismatic Senator Palpatine, who later became the Emperor. In Episode I, he manipulates events and Queen Padme Amidala to place himself in a position of power as Chancellor of the Republic. Unknown to anyone, Palpatine is really Darth Sidious leader of the Sith.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

In Episode II, Palpatine keeps power and instigates a secession movement through his Sith underlings. This triggers the Clone Wars which will eventually leads to a bigger galactic war as Palpatine intended.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Palpatine plots and succeeds in gaining the trust of Anakin Skywalker in the last of the original prequels. Using promises to save Padme from dying in childbirth, he turns Anakin towards the dark side. Palpatine is exposed as Darth Sidious setting the Jedi and the Sith against each other in open conflict. Mortally injured from a duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin is saved by Palpatine but at a price. Anakin becomes the armored Darth Vader.

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