If Donald Glover’s turn as the younger Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story wasn’t enough card-playing, gambling scoundrel for you, then we have some good news – because it looks like Lando could be back for the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, original actor Billy Dee Williams (who played the smuggler-turned-traitor-turned-hero in 1981’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi) is set to reprise the role in JJ Abrams’ final chapter of the modern franchise, joining Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver (among others) for the movie when it begins shooting later this month.
Rumours had existed about such a return for a while after Dee Williams cancelled a convention appearance due to scheduling conflicts, and given the actor’s frequent returns to the role in recent years (voicing the character for spin-off animated series Star Wars Rebels, among other appearances) it seemed more than likely he had been tempted back into the fold.
In fact, Lando was almost brought back already for 2017’s The Last Jedi, with Rian Johnson considering him for a role in the story that eventually went to a new character played by Benicio del Toro instead.
“In terms of Lando, I briefly considered — would he work in the Benicio part, [DJ],” the director told Playlist.
Billy Dee Williams attends the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story (Getty, HF)
DJ, remember, is the hacker/codebreaker who helps and then betrays Finn and Rose, helping them escape prison on Canto Bight before selling them out to the Imperial First Order.
“I don’t think you would ever buy that Lando would just completely betray the characters like that and have that level of moral ambiguity,” Johnson explained.
“’Cause we love Lando and you’d come into it with that. And also, DJ, the character that they met, for the purposes of Finn’s character, had to be a morally ambiguous character that you’re not sure about, that you’re guessing about, and we already know that we love the character of Lando so it just wouldn’t have played in that part story wise.”
“You have to write organically,” Johnson said. “Otherwise it leads to contrived places. Which is just to say it’s all about the needs of the story and there’s only so much room on the table for… favorite characters to be in the movie.”
Still, it now seems that JJ Abrams has found a way to organically include Lando in the story – at least if the reports are true – while also managing to keep up the cast connection to the original trilogy that was threatened by the tragic death of Leia actor Carrie Fisher in 2016 (Leia was apparently set to have a major role in Episode IX), and the on-screen deaths of Harrison Ford’s character Han Solo and Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker (though it’s possible Hamill may still play a role in the film).
We’ll keep our eyes peeled for any official confirmation on this story, but at the moment it seems fairly likely that Lando is back in action for Episode IX. How he’ll feel about Rey keeping hold of his old ship the Millennium Falcon is anyone’s guess…
Star Wars: Episode IX will be released in UK cinemas in December 2019