Among many other cameos and returns, new Star Wars movie The Rise of Skywalker sees the long-awaited return of Lando Calrissian, the smuggler and scoundrel pal of Han Solo who became a fan favourite after appearing in 1981’s The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
And actor Billy Dee Williams says he was delighted to get the call to bring Lando back into the Star Wars fold for the end of this new trilogy.
“I didn’t expect to be back, but when I was asked to come back I just got a big kick out of it. A big chuckle out of it. I was very happy,” he told RadioTimes.com.
“When I did Lando for the first time I had a two-movie deal, contract. The last time you see Lando, he’s a general in Return of the Jedi. But you always got the feeling that somewhere along the way he would show up again.
“That’s the feeling I got anyway. But at some point after so many years, I thought forget about it. The only way I would come back as Lando is through animations, voiceovers, things of that nature.”
Instead, Williams was contacted by director JJ Abrams to bring Lando back in live-action just over a year after Donald Glover portrayed a younger version in prequel movie Solo, and the character ended up playing an important role in the Skywalker saga’s last chapter.
“The whole idea of working with JJ Abrams, it was something that I was really looking forward to, and I had a lot of fun, because he’s pretty extraordinary,” Williams told us.
“When it happened, I thought wow – this is fantastic.”
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Sky, LucasFilm, HF)
But is Rise of Skywalker the last we’ll see of Lando? As the end of the Star Wars “saga” movies (and Star Wars movies in general for a while) it seems reasonable to assume that this is a final live-action performance for Williams – and according to the man himself he has no interest in any other actors playing his character as a younger man any more.
“I don’t think of anybody else as Lando except me, so I don’t know how to discuss that,” he told RadioTimes.com.
“To me, when I’m dead you can bring Lando back in – but not while I’m alive.”
So sadly, it seems like there’s little hope of any Disney+ or Solo-style prequels coming for the galaxy’s smoothest criminal – even if Williams does think, personally, that Rise of Skywalker is just the beginning for Star Wars as a whole.
“To call it the end, it’s the end of some aspect,” he said.
“That’s what I think. I think Star Wars is going to go on for generations, into the future.”
For now, though? Don’t expect Lando: A Star Wars story any time soon…
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is in cinemas now