Star Wars: Is Benedict Cumberbatch playing Grand Admiral Thrawn?

Benedict Cumberbatch is something of an icon amongst sci-fi and fantasy fans. While he is perhaps still best known as Sherlock from Sherlock, his roles in Doctor Strange, The Hobbit, and Star Trek give him a unique place among the genre faithful. And if he gets a role in Star Wars, he’d be unstoppable.

Disney is currently producing an insane number of new Star Wars projects, and rumors are flying that at least one will feature the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn, arguably the most popular and successful character to ever come out of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Ahsoka mentioned him in her episode of The Mandalorian, so you know Disney is thinking about it.

Another rumor has it that Cumberbatch is in the running to play him. But while speaking with Collider, Cumberbatch shot it down. “I have precious time with my children, and I think sitting in a makeup chair and being painted blue, and the amount of time it would take to do that and then take it off at the end of the day might just… it’s not the right time in my life for that.”

While many will be disappointed with the news that the actor won’t be playing Thrawn, there are plenty of other opportunities for him to join the Star Wars universe. Disney will be releasing an abundance of new content over the coming years, including a prequel to Rogue One, an Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Lando Calrissian show, and many more. Surely they can find space for someone of Cumberbatch’s talents somewhere.

The Legacy of Thrawn

Originally serving as the antagonist in author Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy of novels in the early ’90s, the Imperial military commander was popular enough to make a return to the range with Zahn’s Hand of Thrawn duology a few years later. To a certain generation of Star Wars fans, Thrawn is as much part of the universe as Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

Star Wars Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni talked about Thrawn’s unique place in the canon during an appearance at a 2016 Star Wars convention. “You couldn’t have grown up a Star Wars fan without encountering Thrawn in Heir to the Empire,” he said. “[The late 1980s and early 1990s were a] dark time when there weren’t any more movies, and it blew our minds that there could be more [in the canon].”

It was Filoni who first brought Thrawn off the page and onto screens, as the character appeared in the Rebels season 3 premiere, Steps into Shadow. Given that Disney had declared almost all of the Star Wars media produced outside the film trilogy’s to be non-canon and now part of the “Legends” mythology, it was quite miraculous Thrawn survived, which speaks to his popularity.

Thrawn’s appearances in Star Wars Rebels sparked a new wave of media featuring the Grand Admiral. He subsequently appeared in two more book trilogies from Timothy Zahn, with rumors circulating that the character might be about to make the leap into live-action. And indeed, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) dropped his name during her episode of The Mandalorian, leading many to believe he’ll feature as a villain in season 3, or else appear on her own show.

While none of this is confirmed, and many will be disappointed to hear Cumberbatch isn’t involved, there’s certainly room for a lot of optimism amongst Star Wars fans about the character’s future. But who do you believe would be perfect for the role? Drop a comment and let us know!

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