Billy Dee Williams discusses his meeting with new Lando Calrissian actor Donald Glover
Although actor Billy Dee Williams has obviously played other parts, he’ll always be associated most with portraying Lando Calrissian, the traitor-turned-hero from the Star Wars saga, who made his debut in 1980’s sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. It’s hard to think of anyone else playing Lando, and for almost 4o years the actor and character have become synonymous with one another, but that’s soon about to change, as actor/comedian/rapper Donald Glover will take over the role for the upcoming Han Solo…solo film.
But how is Williams reacting to his younger counterpart? Recently, the two Lando actors sat down for lunch. While promoting The Lego Batman Movie, in which he voices the villain Two-Face, Williams spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about what was discussed, and his feelings toward Glover.
“He’s a very delightful young man, I must say,” the 79-year-old actor said about his 33-year-old successor. “We had a very nice lunch and we talked for a very long time and it was very easy. He had questions about [Lando]. I guess he was doing what normal actors do, they just want to find out what direction they want to take so they gather their information. So, we just sat and talked, and I didn’t want to impose on anything he wanted to do — he’s got his own ideas, I would imagine. I know he has his own ideas. He’s a very talented young man. In fact, I was listening to some of his music [Childish Gambino, Glover’s musical alter-ego] and it’s pretty good stuff.”
Williams has always had a reputation for being cool, and his time as Lando Calrissian definitely had something to do with that. Donald has stated that he wants to reproduce this trait, and Williams discussed his views on this particular matter.
“Well, nobody’s as cool as me,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a tough way to go. No, I’m only joking. Donald is eclectic, I think that’s really important particularly for the character of Lando. He is particularly eclectic in the way he approaches his art. When I talked to him I really got the sense of him being a worldly person.”
However, although he seems to approve of Glover as both a performer and person in general, he still seems set in his ways about not wanting anyone else to play the character.
“I don’t know,” he admitted when asked if he’s changed his mind. “To me, I guess what it is that I identify so much with Lando. I mean, Lando has been very much a part of my life for over 30 years. When I go out and do conventions and stuff like that, even though people know me from all the other things that I’ve done, certainly [Lando] takes precedence. I just never thought of anybody else being Lando. I just see myself as Lando.”
On a final lighter note, he did say he’d appear in the Han Solo film if he was asked. That film will be released sometime in 2018.