Benedict Cumberbatch is already firmly entrenched in one massive universe and franchise. Could he be coming to another one, though in a decidedly different role? There had been some rumors that he could soon be pulling double duty between the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the Star Wars franchise on Disney+. But it looks like Cumberbatch has squelched the second piece of those rumors with a rather definitive answer about his Star Wars involvement. No, he will not be playing Grand Admiral Thrawn in The Mandalorian when it starts up for its third season.
Now, to be fair to Benedict Cumberbatch, this rumor came from fans calling to want to see him play the character in The Mandalorian. This wasn’t some kind of industry rumor in which the two sides were circling each other discussing a part. In fact, it was almost quite the opposite. Cumberbatch really seemed to have no idea where the rumors started, or even worse, who the character even is. While at a press junket for his new movie, The Courier, the actor was asked about playing Thrawn going forward. His confusion told most of the story. He said:
Grand Admiral Thrawn? Does he turn into Peter Cushing, or something?…That’s a straight no from me, right now.
He went on to describe not wanting to spend the time in the makeup chair being turned blue to become the character and some other reasoning around having more time for his kids. But the intent, or lack thereof, makes it obvious that Benedict Cumberbatch had no idea about anything related to Grand Admiral Thrawn and has no intention of playing the character in future projects. The rumors simply came from some cool fan art that put the actor in the character.
Grand Admiral Thrawn has been around in the Star Wars universe for some time now, though hasn’t appeared in any live-action roles either in the movies or shows as of yet. The character did appear in the animated show Star Wars Rebels and was also mentioned in Season 2 of The Mandalorian as being a high-ranking officer in what’s left of the Empire after the events of Return of the Jedi. There’s speculation he will be featured in the next season of the show, or his own series, leading to fans wanting Benedict Cumberbatch to take on the role.
But that won’t be the case, at least as of now and probably as of never, with Benedict Cumberbatch being plenty busy over the next couple of years with other prominent roles. For starters, there’s the aforementioned The Courier which is a spy film set during the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War. And of course, there’s one Dr. Stephen Strange who has a major part in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four. He didn’t appear in WandaVision, but is currently filming both Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home both of which promise to be the biggest movie productions of this phase.
So, no imminent roles in the Star Wars universe for Benedict Cumberbatch. Sometimes internet rumors and fan groundswell are just that, things to get excited about but won’t come to fruition. There’s still plenty of chances to catch the actor, it just won’t be in a galaxy far, far away.