Billy Dee Williams Celebrates Lando’s Return in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

Star Wars legend Billy Dee Williams says the debonair Lando Calrissian is “back and better than ever” in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Williams first portrayed the cape-wearing scoundrel in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and reprised the role in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, later lending his voice to the character across numerous video games and animated productions, including Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars Rebels.

In February, it was reported Lando plays a small role similar to that of Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) in The Force Awakens, and will point the trio of young heroes — Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) — in the direction of the film’s mysterious MacGuffin.

Lando makes his anticipated debut in the Sequel Trilogy under returning Force Awakens writer-director J.J. Abrams after The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson admitted there “just wasn’t space” for Lando in the preceding film.

“He’s not in the film and it was never really something that came up,” Johnson told EW. “I mean, I loved that character. It would have been fun to see him, but it’s just not something that ever really had a place in the story.”

Johnson later explained to The Playlist he once “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 warring 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.

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“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.”

Also starring franchise veterans Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases December 20.