Is the Emperor in Star Wars 9? J.J. Abrams says "he’s in the poster for a reason"

Star Wars 9
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Details about Star Wars 9 are still mostly under wraps, particularly when it comes to those corrupted by the Dark Side of the Force. Director J.J. Abrams, though, has given out a few hints about the Emperor’s potential involvement in Rise of Skywalker, as well as a “mindblowing” performance from Adam Driver as Kylo Ren.

“That’s part of what the story is [about],” Abrams told MTV News during a recent interview when asked about both the Emperor’s role in Star Wars 9 and who the ultimate ‘Big Bad’ will be. “I will say that, with the Emperor around, he’s not gonna be… the cuddly pal. I can’t wait to see how that plays out, but he’s in the poster for a reason.”

While the first Star Wars 9 trailer featured only a final, ominous sound of the Emperor laughing, those Abrams comments may yet hint at a larger role for the man who was once Chancellor Palpatine.

Someone else well-versed in the way of the Sith is Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. The idea that the Sith Lord would eventually flip back to the side of light has been circulating ever since his assassination of Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Abrams is keeping any story beats close to his chest in the regard, but teased that Driver, “is mindblowing in this, he’s brought a whole other level” and on the subject of Kylo Ren’s redemption, a cryptic, but ultimately interesting response that should tide #Bendemption (yep, that’s a whole thing) fans over until December: “you can never limit what [Adam Driver] can do.”

Dive deep into the recent Star Wars 9 teaser with our look at everything we discovered in the D23 Rise of Skywalker footage.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.