Will ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Bring Back Billy Dee Williams As Lando?

Star Wars original trilogy star Billy Dee Williams might be preparing for a return to a galaxy far, far away on the big screen.

“Fun Billy Dee Williams fact: Billy just had his 81st birthday,” wrote the Twitter account for MegaCon Orlando on Friday. “He’s training 3 times a week with a trainer and has a whole new diet.”

Williams is a three-day guest of the convention, appearing May 25—27.

Returning stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher underwent similar regimens for their return to the now Disney-owned franchise, reprising their roles as siblings Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

In December, just before the release of The Last Jedi, writer-director Ryan Johnson reaffirmed on Jimmy Kimmel Live Williams’ Lando Calrissian would not be appearing in the movie.

Johnson told host Jimmy Kimmel that Williams hadn’t reached out about a role in Episode VIII.

“I love that character so much, but there just wasn’t space for it,” Johnson explained.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Johnson said a Lando return “was never really something that came up.” Johnson said it “would have been fun to see him, but it’s just not something that ever really had a place in the story.”

Williams’ manager, Brad Kramer, later told EW the star “respects the studio and all involved in the decision” not to be brought back for The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, “but would be happy to be in any future Star Wars film if asked.”

Johnson later explained to The Playlist he “briefly considered” having Williams’ Lando fill the role eventually played by Benicio del Toro, a shady double dealer profiting off both sides of the conflict between the Resistance and the 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 said.

“Because 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.”

Fisher admitted to Good Housekeeping in 2015 she felt pressured to lose weight for her Star Wars return, but slimmed down “the same way everybody has to — don’t eat and exercise more! There is no other way to do it.”

Hamill similarly got into better shape for his Luke Skywalker return, telling Rolling Stone he was “on the ‘if it tastes good, don’t eat it’ diet.” He later told Vanity Fair in 2017 to get into shape, you “just cut out all the things you love.”

Williams debuted as Lando in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, returning in 1983 sequel Return of the Jedi. He would later reprise his role as the cape-wearing charmer in the animated Star Wars Rebels and again in both The LEGO Movie and the Star Wars: Battlefront II video game.

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Donald Glover portrays a younger but just-as-suave Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, now playing. Williams said he loved the movie.

The yet to be named Star Wars: Episode IX begins shooting in July and opens in theaters December 20, 2019.