That’s right, Billy Dee Williams may be returning to the screen for Episode IX to reprise his role as the debonair charmer Lando Calrissian—or “Unca Wanwo” as Ben Solo called him in Daniel José Older’s Last Shot.
Rumors have been circulating about the actor’s return for the past two days now, and I have to admit, at first I was skeptical. According to The Hollywood Reporter, questions starting circling when Williams bowed out of a SFF convention due to conflicts with a filming schedule. The timing seemed to fit, given the recent announcement of Kerri Russell being tapped for Episode IX, but still. When it comes to the galaxy far, far away, I prefer to hold my breath until more official sources start weighing in.
It wasn’t until Victory Mahoney, second unit director of Episode IX, started tweeting about Williams’ rumored return that I finally let myself believe.
This isn’t Williams’ first ‘return’ to the Star Wars universe after his iconic appearance in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. Williams voiced Lando for Star Wars Rebels, the video game Star Wars: Battlefront, and multiple of the Lego Star Wars games in recent years. But it’s safe to say that his return to the big screen will generate, indeed has already generated, plenty of hype. Outside of the trio of Han, Leia, and Luke, Lando is one of the most beloved and recognizable characters in the original trilogy. With Donald Glover’s portrayal of the character in Solo: A Star Wars Story, audiences should be primed and ready for Lando to make a smooth landing into Episode IX.
No news yet on how big Lando’s role will be in the film or what it will look like. It wouldn’t surprise this writer if he filled the original-trilogy-mentor-shaped hole left in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s passing. While no one can replace Leia Organa, a black male character filling the role of mentor for the younger generation would be pretty damn neat.
Whatever role in the film he has, all I ask for is that he keeps the cape.