Open Channel: Who Should Play Grand Admiral Thrawn in His Inevitable Star Wars Movie?

Inset of San Diego Comic-Con 2109 exclusive cover of Thrawn: Treason by Two Dots studio.
Inset of San Diego Comic-Con 2109 exclusive cover of Thrawn: Treason by Two Dots studio.
Image: Lucasfilm

You know, other than Benedict Cumberbatch?

Because come on, it feels like it’s almost certainly going to be Benedict Cumberbatch. The tall, lanky Brit who has no problems playing quietly intimidating could easily slip on the Grand Admiral’s white uniform, and his willingness to join mega-franchise like Star Trek, The Hobbit, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe indicates he almost certainly wouldn’t mind adding Star Wars to the list.


Oh sure, in a recent interview Cumberbatch told Collider “That’s a straight no from me, right now” about potentially taking the role of Thrawn, but 1) notice the “right now,” and 2) he’s a known liar who swore up and down he wasn’t playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness for over a year, so there’s honestly no reason to believe anything he says regarding his roles.

But what if he’s telling the truth? Maybe he actually turns it down, or maybe Lucasfilm wants someone less...abundant in the role? It’s been rumored Lars Mikkelsen is a contender, presumably because he’s provided Thrawn’s voice in the Rebels cartoon, but that might be fan wish-fulfillment rather than something actually in the works.

So who else could play the Chiss whose tactical brilliance was so overwhelming he conquered the Empire’s inherent racism and xenophobia to rise to its uppermost ranks? There are many possibilities out there, possibilities that would be even better than Lars and the ‘Batch—we just need you to tell us who they are in the comments, as well as why they’re perfect. Because you know a Thrawn movie or Disney+ series is coming eventually. He’s too much of a fan favorite for Lucasfilm to leave languishing in animation.

Let’s figure out the best actor now, because if Cumberbatch does get hired, it’s very possible he’ll use his horrible American accent in the role—and absolutely no one wants that.


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Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.



Michael Fassbender. He’s been in some stinkers lately so it’s easy to forget how excellent he can be. But check him out in Shame, Inglorious Basterds, Haywire, X-men:First Class, Prometheus, Slow West, amongst other films. He’s great and could be a very good Thrawn.