Star Wars: Billy Dee Williams Returning as Lando Calrissian for 'Episode IX'

After months of speculation about Billy Dee Williams' involvement in the upcoming conclusion to the Star Wars sequel trilogy, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the actor will reprise his role as Calrissian in Episode IX. It's unclear how prominently the character will be featured, though the absence of Carrie Fisher and the deaths of characters Han Solo and Luke Skywalker could result in the role being substantial.

When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 and announced it would be developing a series of sequels, fan excitement hinged on the involvement of original cast members. Excitement grew at the reveal that Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels would all be returning for the continued adventures. Fans couldn't help but wonder about the glaring lack of Williams, though we could only assume he might be featured further down the line.

With The Last Jedi, Lando fans were left disappointed with Calrissian's absence, as writer/director Rian Johnson had a difficult time figuring out a way to organically include the character.

“Of course I’d love to see Lando. In terms of Lando, I briefly considered — would he work in the Benicio [del Toro] part, [DJ]," Johnson explained to The Playlist. “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. Cause we love Lando and you’d come into it with that [expectation]. 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.”

Reports of Williams' involvement began earlier this year when a convention at which the actor was appearing shared with its followers his intense new health regimen, similar to the one Fisher underwent before returning to the saga. Last week, a convention noted that Williams had to cancel his appearance in September due to shooting a film, potentially coinciding with Episode IX's shooting, slated to begin this month.

Earlier this year, audiences got to witness the early adventures of Lando, who was played by Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Episode IX hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

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[H/T The Hollywood Reporter]