Whether or not they loved The Last Jedi or Solo, Star Wars fans everywhere all agree that Lando Calrissian is the man. And while Donald Glover’s portrayal of the young con artist was widely praised in Solo: A Star Wars Story, the original smooth-talking, fasting flying version of Calrissian portrayed by Billie Dee Williams holds a special place in people’s hearts. And now, it looks like the 81-year-old actor will indeed appear in the next huge installment of the Star Wars franchise.
On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter all-but-confirmed the news and cited the fact that “the actor bowed out of an upcoming sci-fi and pop culture convention citing a conflict with a movie schedule.” The conventional wisdom is this: If Williams is canceling appearances to sign autographs for Star Wars fans, then that means he’s probably in a new Star Wars movie.
Though this will be Williams’s first appearance as Lando in a live-action Star Wars project since 1983’s Return of the Jedi, he’s played the voice of Lando as recently as a 2015 episode of the animated series Star Wars Rebels. Prior to the filming of Solo, Williams also had a mysterious lunch with young actor Donald Glover in which he clearly transmitted his debonair directly into Glover’s body. Unlike Alden Ehrenreich’s take on Han Solo, Glover’s version of Lando was more clearly a near-perfect impersonation of Billy Dee Williams. (Which is actually a good thing, and perhaps the best thing about the seemingly underappreciated film.)
Considering nearly the entirety of the original Star Wars trilogy’s cast has been included in the new films in some capacity (even Lando’s co-pilot Nien Nunb was in The Force Awakens) it’s shocking it’s taken this long to get Billy Dee Williams back in the action. In 2018, Last Jedi director Rian Johnson admitted that he considered having Lando appear in the casino planet scenes, but said he couldn’t because “there’s only so much room on the table for favorite characters to be in the movie.” Essentially, because Johnson wanted Finn and Rose to be betrayed by Benicio del Toro’s “DJ” he couldn’t justify having Lando do the same thing he’d essentially done in The Empire Strikes Back: completely screw over the good guys for money.
So, with that in mind, Lando’s absence in The Last Jedi was probably for the best, and now that J.J. Abrams is directing the final big installment, General Calrissian can return as a hero. Even if it is just a short cameo.
–Star Wars: Episode IX, now with more Billy Dee Williams and Keri Russell will hit theaters on December 20, 2019.-