Star Wars: Episode IX actor Richard E. Grant confirms he is not playing Grand Admiral Thrawn in the film. Along with Keri Russell and Naomi Ackie, Grant is one of three newcomers to the sequel trilogy's already stacked ensemble, signing on for a mystery role that's being kept under wraps for now. Despite there being a lack of information about Grant's character, fans are already speculating who he could be. A popular theory to pop up is Thrawn, the fan-favorite Legends villain who was integrated into the official canon via Rebels and Timothy Zahn's new novels.

Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars has no qualms about working the non-movie materials into the feature films. For instance, Saw Gerrera (a character who originally appeared on Clone Wars) had a supporting role in Rogue One, and Solo featured the infamous Maul cameo at the end. Because of this, viewers are wondering if Thrawn will ever be on the big screen, but it won't happen in Episode IX.

In an interview with Radio Times, Grant was asked about the prevailing hypothesis he is the live-action Thrawn and took the opportunity to debunk the rumor quite definitively:

Iím not playing the Star Wars character you just mentioned. Iím not allowed to tell you anything. Otherwise I would be fired. Itís a complete lockdown on any information whatsoever.

While Lucasfilm does like to play up the secrecy of their films, they aren't afraid to be transparent when it's called for. Some may recall they shot down the "Snoke is Plagueis" theory a while ago and nixed the notion Carrie Fisher's likeness would be recreated via CGI for Episode IX. It's nice to see the studio isn't a completely closed book, as this allows fans to adjust their expectations accordingly. Now, well before Star Wars 9 debuts, audiences know Thrawn isn't in it and they can move on to the next theory that catches their attention. Whenever something as massive as Star Wars is involved, there's no shortage of rumors to sift through.

In all likelihood, Grant is playing a new character, perhaps some sort of commanding officer for the First Order. The villains took heavy losses in The Last Jedi with the deaths of Snoke and Captain Phasma, so they need some reinforcements as the war heats up. Of course, at this point in time, there's always a chance he's a member of the Resistance, but they seem to have a loaded roster of characters at their disposal. Grant has experience playing a villain in a franchise tentpole (see: Logan) and certainly fits the profile of someone who would make a convincing Imperial-type. Seeing him interact with Domhnall Gleeson and Adam Driver (who have their own compelling dynamic) in Episode IX would be a treat.

Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019