Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marks Lando Calrissian actor Billy Dee Williams' return to a galaxy far, far away, but the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi star "never expected" to reprise the role. In Rise of Skywalker, Lando joins the fight against the reigning First Order — now commanded by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the son of Lando's late chum Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Resistance general Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) — lending a helping hand to the new generation of rebel fighters, including Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), who come up against the returned Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
"It was fun. I really enjoyed it," Williams told Variety when asked how it felt to step back into the Lando costume for the first time in nearly 40 years. "I'm older now, so for me, it's more a source of amusement than anything else. I never expected to really be back in that costume or in the movie, so I still kind of chuckle about the whole thing. I knew people were clamoring for Lando to come back, but I didn't feel like that would happen. It's a nice feeling to be welcomed back."
For writer-director J.J. Abrams, bringing back Lando in the Skywalker Saga-ending Rise of Skywalker is something Abrams originally hoped to pull off in 2015 franchise revival The Force Awakens.
"Having Lando back in Star Wars is something that [co-writer] Larry Kasdan and I wanted to do in The Force Awakens, just as much as I wanted to have Luke training Rey," Arbams told Vanity Fair. "I was so excited about things that we just realized we could never, ever get to."
Abrams continued, "He's just wonderful and funny and fascinating and curious, and he cares so much… Having his spirit and his personality, and his swagger, and that f—ing smile, which is the greatest thing that, maybe, God ever made… He's just, you just can't deny the guy. Getting to see him in a scene with our characters, it just feels so right."
During Disney's bi-annual D23 Expo in August, the 82-year-old actor said his Rise of Skywalker return is "bittersweet," telling ET, "It's a wonderful experience, I didn't expect it."
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.
Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Joonas Suotamo, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20.