Richard E. Grant Might NOT Be Portraying Grand Admiral Thrawn in Episode IX, Quote & Thoughts

Star Wars: Episode IX actor Richard E. Grant states that he is not playing the Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn. In an interview with Radio Times, Grant was asked about the Fan Theory (the same one that went around for Episode VIII actor Benicio Del Toro) that he is the live-action Thrawn, but took the opportunity to debunk the rumour:

“I’m not playing the Star Wars character you just mentioned. I’m not allowed to tell you anything. Otherwise I would be fired. It’s a complete lockdown on any information whatsoever.”

– Richard E. Grant

Now I’m going to go off with two mindsets here. That’s the reason why I titled this article as “Might NOT” and not “WILL NOT”. To try and cover what I think, the little bit of doubt I have in the back of my mind and what I’ve seen other fans say about this news. Along with that some might be thinking.

 Reasonable Mindset:

Yeah, that’s it. He is not portraying the fan loved Chiss Grand Admiral. He’s not playing the character that some fans were speculating. And that he will be a brand new character for the film. At this moment in time, we don’t know which side he’s on. The Resistance or the First Order. But if I was a betting man, I’d go with the latter. As he does portray villains more often. And after his villainous role in Doctor Who, I can see him as a Star Wars villain. He’s got that presence for it. The voice. (Well the British, do pull of the best villains after all.)

Star Wars has always introduced new Characters in every movie. Major or minor, even in the finale instalments to that Trilogy:

  • Return of the Jedi: Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, Nien Numb, Moff Jerjerrod and technically the Emperor.
  • Revenge of the Sith: General Grievous, Commander Cody and the mythos to the character of Darth Plagueis.

But like I mentioned, we’ve heard this before “Such and such is/might be Thrawn”. The same thing was said back in during the production of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi with Benicio del Toro. With sites like The Express, Cinemablend, ScreenRant and What Culture bringing up and discussing the fan theory. Once the picture of Benicio del Toro’s character was released as DJ, this theory died. But cropped up again when Richard E. Grant was cast for Episode IX. Only to announce that he is not portraying Thrawn after less than a month.

Mostly likely this is the case. New Character. But…….

The Questionable and Overthinking Mindset:

Yeah I think that image sums that up pretty well. But do take this part of the article with a grain of salt. You are now in speculation territory. All the thoughts and slight doubts. This is the other mindset. And what I’ll be bring up is what I have thought and what I’ve seen other fans bring up. But again take this bit with a grain of salt.

After answering the question if he’ll be portraying the character of Thrawn by the Radio Times. Richard then says this:

“I’m not allowed to tell you anything. Otherwise I would be fired.

It’s a complete lockdown on any information whatsoever.”

He ends it right there and then. So quickly. But with reason. Actors or Actress can’t just go willy-nill giving out details about the film they are in. There’s regulations, contracts and consequences. They are told what they can and can’t say. So when asked a question like this whether or not you are portraying the character or not, they have to dismiss it.

LucasFilm is very secretive about these sort have thing. Keeping things under wraps. With the biggest secret in cinema history under they’re belt. “No, I am your Father.” Lately with the new films, LucasFilm has keep things hush, hush. Even tricking the audience. I, along with many didn’t expect Rey to become the Lightsaber wielding heroine of Episode VII: The Force Awakens. With many expecting Finn to be instead thanks to what information had been released and what we saw in the films marketing. Not forgetting Han’s death. That too was kept a secret. Surprising fans upon release.


With Rogue One the appearances of both Tarkin and Leia, using CGI. Vader’s final scene, slaughtering the Rebels in that corridor. No one expected that. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the fate of Leia after the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher. The deaths of both Snoke and Luke. And most recently the reveal of Maul in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

LucasFilm keeps a tight lid on things. The majority of so called “leaks” that get reported infamously by Mike Zeroh and Stefan Kyriazis of the Daily Express are nothing more than just fan speculation being reported as “fact”.

But it’s not just LucasFilm that likes to keep things secretive. Episodes VII & IX Director J.J. Abrams is notorious for keeping things secretive. So far in fact that Cloverfield Lane just appeared out of nowhere. Go back to 2013, with his sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. For months upon months, there was fan speculation that Benedict Cumberbatch was Khan Noonien Singh. With J.J. Abrams, the films’ crew and cast denying it.

“I play a character called John and not that other name. It’s interesting. Speculation is speculation and that’s all fun.”

– Benedict Cumberbatch, December 12th 2012 Access Online

Neither Cumberbatch or Grant mention the name of the Character under speculation. Cumberbatch doesn’t say Khan. Grant doesn’t say Thrawn. But again Actors and Actress’ are told what they can or can’t say about a films details during interviews.

I can understand this mindset, why there are fans thinking this. You have a studio that likes to keep things under wraps, making sure hardly anything gets leaked. Along with a Director who is famous for being secretive with is projects. It’s wishful thinking, but not impossible. As I’ve seen one fan say, “Slap some blue paint on him an give him some red contacts, he’ll look like Thrawn”.

   After Thoughts:

Well talk about going down a rabbit hole there. It takes a little more than “slapping blue paint on someone and giving them some contacts” to create a Character like this. I can understand where people come from when they’ve brought this up. I do think it’s wishful thinking, as a very similar rumour went around with Benicio del Toro. But at the same time, it’s not impossible either. LucasFilm understand how popular Thrawn is, his reintroduction in Season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels proves this.

Would I like to see Thrawn appear in a live action Star Wars movie? Of course. He is one of Star Wars’ greatest villains. And he’s different. He’s not a Sith with the power of the Darkside. He’s a tactician and strategist.

But I would recommend going along with what Richard E. Grant has said. That he is “not playing the Star Wars character” the Radio Times mentioned. As you won’t set yourself up for disappointment by dwelling on wishful thinking. And hey if it turns into another Khan, it’ll be a nice surprise. But it’s best to go with that we know and not what we think. Take from this, he is NOT Thrawn. Go with the reasonable mindset. He is NOT Thrawn. LucasFilm will reveal more about the Characters at a later date. Who they are and what their roles will be. And that will officially confirm it. Until images or the teaser/trailers are released.

Until then, Richard E. Grant is not playing the Star Wars character.

Star Wars Episode IX will be released in theatres on December 20th, 2019.

Connor Heggie