Star Wars: The Last Jedi gives Finn and his new companion Rose a crucial mission: Maz Kanata puts them onto the trail of a code breaker that can sneak them onto The First Order command ship, to shut down the Hyperspace Tracker that's putting The Resistance in dire peril. When Finn and Rose set off to find Maz's hacker at a high-end casino on Canto Bight (a man with a rose-like bloom on his lapel), a lot viewers figured we were in for a surprise cameo from none other than Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).
Of course Lando does not appear in The Last Jedi (a fact that was revealed before the film's release), and instead we get Benicio Del Toro's "DJ". However, director Rian Johnson recently explained to The Playlist why he chose not to go with Lando as Finn and Rose would-be savior:
“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 explains. “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.”
Johnson's explanation is sound: Lando is, by now, a beloved hero of Star Wars Original Trilogy, and the code breaker character in The Last Jedi was meant to betray the Resistance in a big way that would've tarnished Lando. If fans got nostalgic pains for seeing Lando while watching The Last Jedi, it's probably because DJ's story arc is an echo (rehash) of the very similar part Lando played in The Empire Strikes Back.
There's still a chance for Episode IX to bring Lando back into the picture, as he's one of the few OT heroes of The Rebellion that has not yet appeared in the Sequel Trilogy. Of course, Lando (and Billy Dee Williams) have made appearances in the canonized Star Wars animated series, where Lando's suave shrewdness and scheming is more charming than ever.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now in theaters.