Does Star Wars Villain Emperor Palpatine Have Sex? Ian McDiarmid Has An Answer, Somehow

Do it. Execute order 69. He could stop others from boning, but not himself. Young fool, only now in your end do you understand. Your coming together is your undoing. Insert your own ribald "Emperor Palpatine has sex" pun here.

In J.J. Abrams' maligned 2019 sci-fi adventure "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," it was revealed that the young heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) was the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), the deceased villain from several previous "Star Wars" movies. At the end of 1983's "Return of the Jedi," Darth Vader (David Prowse) hurled the elderly Emperor from a tall tower, most definitely killing him. Somehow, however, Palpatine returned. Not only did he return, but he was revealed to be the secret mastermind behind all of the galaxy's recent malfeasance. He was kept alive by eerie, Gigerian machines on the distant planet Exegol, secretly growing clones and constructing a powerful fleet of ultra-destructive warships.

One may have trouble focusing on Palpatine's schemes, however, as one might be distracted by the fact that he has a granddaughter. That means audiences are likely picturing a monstrous, craggy warlock engaging in sexual intercourse, zestily fathering one of Rey's parents. On screen, Palpatine may be blithering about Force Dyads or whatever, but many in the audience can likely only envision his "O" face. Yes, it seems that Palpatine f***s.

Or perhaps not. Enterprising journalist Ben Travis, writing for Empire Magazine, recently interviewed McDiarmid about the many times he played Emperor Palpatine. Travis thought to ask the actor about Palpatine's sexual history, and McDiarmid seemed to answer in the affirmative that the Emperor did indeed copulate.

'Please don't pursue that line too vigorously.'

Prior to "The Rise of Skywalker," Rey's parentage was a mystery, as she had been abandoned as a child. In "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) claimed that Rey's parents were nobodies and that she has no legacy. There were, however, several deleted scenes in "Rise of Skywalker" that would have explained the connection between Palpatine and Rey's father, a character named Dathan. It seems that when Palpatine was plummeting to his death at the end of "Return of the Jedi," he had the presence of mind to magically project his consciousness into a strand of cloned DNA, many lightyears away. Dathan, then, was kinda sorta Dathan's father. Dathan then had a child — Rey — in the usual way, passing on some of Palpatine's DNA.

But that version of the story isn't in the final cut of "Rise of Skywalker," and most audiences are still back with the idea that Palpatine had a human sexual partner whom he impregnated directly. When asked about if Palpatine has sex, McDiarmid was frank:

"Please don't pursue that line too vigorously, but yes, he does. It's a horrible idea to think of Palpatine having sex in any shape or form."

McDiarmid's aversion to Palpatine sex isn't merely because of his age — people over the age of 60 should pursue whatever zesty, healthy sex lives that they want — but is more likely because of his monstrous nature. In "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," Palpatine seemed to "overload" on his Force Lightning powers, mutating his face and making him pale and puffy. Perhaps that, added to a lifespan of over a century, leads people to picture Palpatine's sex life to be unattractive.

Never trust your granddaughter

McDiarmid, however, then walked back his assertion, remembering the odd, unclear ways the Force works in "Star Wars" (the collection of abilities that the Force can grant to users ranges from clairvoyance to lightning to healing powers):

"But then, of course, perhaps he didn't. Maybe it's all to do with midi-chlorians ... and don't ask me what those are. [...] 'Never trust your granddaughter.' That's the T-shirt Palpatine got made. Shortly after his death."

Midi-chlorians, as all Starwoids know, are a universe-wide network of microscopic life forms that inhabit the bodies of all larger biological beings. It's the midi-chlorians that grant their host their Force-y powers. The more midi-cholrians one has in their body, the more powerful their access to the Force. Although a canonical part of the "Star Wars" universe, midi-chlorians aren't a well-liked part of the franchise's overall mythos. The Force was, up until the official introduction of midi-chlorians in 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," a spiritual force. Midi-chlorians seemed to make the Force into something measurable and scientific, like something out of "Star Trek."

McDiarmid knew a little something about the Force, anyway, and understood that conceiving a child in "Star Wars" didn't necessarily require coitus. But he also clearly felt that the Emperor was a sexual being and was certainly capable of coitus, should that have been on his mind. It may be semi-canonical that Palpatine sired Rey's father via psychic infection, but there's no reason to believe that the guy wasn't getting additional action beyond his mental DNA impregnation.