You Cast ‘Star Wars: Heir to the Empire’ Round Seven: Grand Admiral Mitth’raw’nuruodo (‘Thrawn’)


Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Heir to the Empire was a blockbuster and boundary breaker: It broke out of the fan underground and onto the New York Times Bestseller list, broke down the boundaries between film and written word, proving succinctly that a story is never truly over as long as someone wants to hear more, and broke through the known limits of the Star Wars universe, exploring places that the original trilogy never did. Would we have had an Expanded Universe without Heir to the Empire? Probably not.

Heir to the Empire picks up five years after Return of the Jedi. The galaxy is struggling to heal the wounds of war after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Emperor. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins and Luke Skywalker is now the first in a long awaited new line of Jedi Knights.

But thousands of light-years away the last of the Emperor’s warlords-the brilliant and deadly Grand Admiral Thrawn-has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet. He’s ready it for war and aimed it right at the heart of the fragile new republic.

Fans would love to see an Heir to the Empire movie, and we would too! To celebrate the 20th anniversary edition of Heir to the Empire, we’re going to indulge in a little game of what-if, and we’d like for you to play along. We thought it would be fun to try to cast each of the book’s major roles, and after a little email brainstorming, we came up with a list of likely candidates to portray the key characters. We’d like our readers to help narrow them down and cast the movie.

We’ll list a character each weekday and the five actors we think are right for the part. You simply vote for the actor you want to see win the role. Don’t like our choices? Cast a write-in vote using the embedded poll software!

Note, we had said we’ll be posting the winners on September 20th, but that’s now changing to September 22nd to give the last characters time to be voted on. All polls will close at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, September 21.

Oh, and we should mention that since it’s been decades since Return of the Jedi was filmed we’ll need to recast all of the characters, so we’ll be asking you to cast new actors in some of the saga’s most iconic roles. Controversial? Maybe. Fun to discuss? You bet!

Today’s character is Grand Admiral Thrawn.


Grand Admiral Thrawn: The enigmatic Chiss known as Thrawn rose in the ranks of the Imperial Navy despite being the only only non-human officer in the fleet. After returning from a mysterious mission in the Outer Regions, Thrawn found the Empire nearly destroyed.

Here are five actors we think might make a good Grand Admiral Thrawn. Click the links to view their IMDB profiles, and then vote for your choice:

Liam Neeson
John Noble
Mark Strong
Hugo Weaving
Jason Isaacs


Click here to vote for round eight: Han Solo!

  • DavemJones

    Mark Strong is who I thought about even before I saw the choices.

  • echo 138

    Very good choices. I was hoping Jason Isaacs would be on the list.

  • Space Girl

    I’m going with Jason Isaacs. Mark Strong would be a good choice though too. I love Liam Neeson, but he doesn’t have the ‘sleek’ look I think of for Thrawn.

  • Dex

    John Noble would be a great Joruus. He can switch moods at the drop of a hat.

  • izikavazo

    Good options today. I wouldn’t have thought of Jason Isaacs, but now that I do it seems obvious.
    @Dex, that would be fun.

  • Anna

    Jason Isaacs. He’s amazing at making bad guys sympathetic, which is exactly what you need for Thrawn.

  • Darth Verous

    Nestor Carbonell is Thrawn!!!

  • Jedi Grandmaster

    Mark Strong all the way!!! His facial features and body structure fit Thrown to a “T” He was born to play the Chiss Grand Admiral

  • Bryce

    John Noble would be an awesome Joruus! Good call Dex.

  • Dark Father

    Michael Sheen

  • Sam

    How is jeremy Irons not on this list? Seriously.

  • Paul

    Ralph Fiennes! How could you not even consider Ralph Fiennes??? That guy who was so evil in Shindler’s List Opposite the Liam Neeson character (Seriously Qui-Gon as Thrawn?) Ralph Finnes, you may have seen him as the DARK LORD VOLDEMORT, the menacing one, making Jason Issacs look like a wimp… I love all the guys, the 5 are all great actors, but Ralph Finnes is the master of playing intelligent evil that transcends being just ‘boo his the bad guy’… (Though Mark Strong is running for that seat too of late)

  • Peter

    Thanks Paul! I was going to be concerned that I was the only won that thought Ralph Fiennes would be awesome, glad you thought of it too.

  • Gabe

    I originally had Alan rickman in mind when I read the book 20years ago.

  • Ray

    Corey Burton’s voice.

  • George

    I’m going with Jason Isaacs (an inspired choice) although Rickman and Fiennes are also good choices (personally, I pictured Michael Caine when the books came out).

    I could also see Viggo Mortensen or Tim Roth (who was my first thought before Isaacs).

  • George

    I see Han Solo is tomorrow. If Nathan Fillion isn’t at the top of that list, I call shenanigans.

  • Madman007

    From reading TTT for the first time I have always seen John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek) as Thrawn. He can come across both intelligently and mischievously at the same time.

  • Alan

    Ooooo. I like John de Lancie as an option too! You came up with a great one!

  • Michael

    After browsing through all of the polls, none of the choices seem to match up to the characters. At all. This is pathetic,really, if that’s the best that can be done. I don’t see any evidence that Svudu read the books or undestands the characters. At any rate using larely Unknown actors would be the way to go.

  • Madman007

    Alan, thanks. I made a proposed image of DeLancie as Thrawn in Photoshop here. See what you think.

  • Anthony

    I always pictured Alan Rickman as Thrawn. He has the chops for the role, if anyone does.

  • hanimal

    jason issacs would be a magnificent thrawn. Glad he was included here.

  • Darth J

    I always pictured James Marsters (spike from Buffy/Brainiac from Smallville) for some reason. anyone else with me on that?

  • A Whovian

    I personally think that Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, 2010) would make an excellent Thrawn. He certainly can portray the genius required for the role.

  • N Johnson

    I dont like the actors chosen for the poll….As for me, I think JAMES WOODS would make a GREAT Admiral Thrawn.

  • calvin

    Christopher Walken

  • Thrymm

    Paul said Fiennes, especially if you look at his character in Schindler’s, although a hundred fold on the sadist side…

    How about Jeremy Irons (Die Hard 3, Time Machine remake), but John Malkovich would be awesome as well. Has the emotionless, ruthlessness, to go along with intelligence (see In the Line of Duty)

  • Miguel

    Michael Fassbender!

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