Star Wars’ Ian McDiarmid Reveals The Note George Lucas Gave Him While Filming Revenge Of The Sith’s ‘Absolute Power’ Scene, And It Explains A Lot

Star Wars’ Ian McDiarmid Reveals The Note George Lucas Gave Him While Filming Revenge Of The Sith’s ‘Absolute Power’ Scene, And It Explains A Lot

If one were to look back on the Star Wars movies (in order or not), they would see that plenty of actors have given some incredible performances by way of the franchise. There’s Harrison Ford’s cocky yet commanding portrayal of Han Solo and Rosario Dawson’s balanced and noble portrayal of Ahsoka Tano, just to name a few. Much praise should also go to Ian McDiarmid, who famously played the villainous Emperor Sheev Palpatine (who is widely known). The actor truly got to sink his teeth into the role in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. Now, McDiarmid has revealed a note he received from George Lucas while filming the threequel’s “absolute power” scene, and it makes so much sense to me.

The scene in question involves the fateful duel between Ian McDiarmid’s Palpatine and Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu, who has discovered that the politician is actually a Sith Lord. As Mace prepares to finish off the evil, old man, the corrupted Anakin Skywalker intervenes and disarms (no pun intended) his former Jedi ally. Palpatine then looks on in delight and proceeds to use Force Lightning on Mace, before pushing him from the window in his office to his death. It’s a dramatic scene and one that proves to be pivotal in Skywalker’s descent into the Dark Side of the Force. 

Ian McDiarmid seems to remember shooting all that quite vividly and shared his recollections with Empire Magazine while marking the 25th anniversary of the start of the prequel trilogy. He specifically discussed what it was like collaborating with writer/director George Lucas during that moment. According to the Scottish performer, Lucas advised that he not hold back when saying his famous line (which was actually “unlimited power” in the movie): 

George [Lucas] kept hyping me up on that. I was screaming, ‘ABSOLUTE POWER!’ I said, ‘Do you want me to do some quiet ones, because this is a bit much?’ George said, ‘No, go further, go further!’ So I did, and he seems to have kept most of it — there’s no holding back there.

So that one piece of feedback fully explains to me just why the scene is so over-the-top. I mean, the Sleepy Hollow actor really hammed it up in a major way – but in the best way, of course. Let’s be honest, that line wouldn’t have hit as hard if the seasoned star had held back when it came to his delivery.

Additionally, while I’m not sure if the production was shot in sequence, this would also explain why the now-79-year-old star is so boisterous during other sequences, including the Emperor's showdown with Yoda (who later hid from Palpatine on Dagobah.) The “power” line definitely worked and is iconic amongst fans, especially those who grew up with the prequels like myself. And, as the star explained, there’s another piece of dialogue from ROTS that his admirers eat up: 

The one that they like most of all is, ‘DO IT!’ People just love it.

That love is one of the reasons why so many people were excited about Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker. After that, many were left wondering whether McDiarmid might return after his comeback in the J.J. Abrams’ 2019 capper to the Skywalker Saga. He eventually reprised Palpatine again in The Bad Batch and Tales of the Jedi, which are both animated series, and briefly popped up in the live-action show Obi-Wan Kenobi.

If there was a story that makes sense, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ian McDiarmid don his Sith robes once more to play Palpatine in a live-action production. It’s hard not to get taken in by his wicked charms while he’s in character. And, yes, it would be great to see him give another bombastic performance that rivals what he did in the final installment of the prequel trilogy. 

To see that scene and the film as a whole, stream Revenge of the Sith using a Disney+ subscription. Do yourself a favor and also check out the list of upcoming Star Wars movies and shows.