Star Wars Episode IX has begun production with an eye on the Dec. 20, 2019 release date. With actors gathering to work on the final installment of George Lucas's original Skywalker saga, casting rumors are flying, with word last week Keri Russell (The Americans) was in talks to join as a new character. Now, one of the most exciting rumors has surfaced, with The Hollywood Reporter stating Billy Dee Williams is reprising his role as Lando in the final episode of this new trilogy.
When Disney relaunched Star Wars in 2015, it was heralded as getting the band back together. The original trio of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford stood onstage at the Star Wars Celebration with their arms around each other's shoulders in triumph. But Billy Dee Williams, who appeared as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, was nowhere to be seen.
Fans have been asking "Where's Lando?" since then, with the hope the series would do right by the characters and bring him back for one last hurrah. This was certain to get louder this time around after Donald Glover resurrected the character, and his cloak collection, in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lando's return for Episode IX is solid.
Billy Dee Williams is returning to a galaxy far, far away. The actor, who famously played the galactic gambler Lando Calrissian, will reprise the role for Star Wars: Episode IX, the next Star Wars installment from Lucasfilm.
The rumors have been picking up speed, and sources are apparently confirming the reason Williams has suddenly been canceling convention appearances is due to his heading to the set.
Chatter about Williams joining the production, which is set to begin later this summer, increased in recent days when the actor bowed out of an upcoming sci-fi and pop culture convention citing a conflict with a movie schedule. Sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Williams will indeed be returning to the Star Wars film franchise for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
Though Williams has not appeared so far in Episodes VII or VIII (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi), he's been active in the Star Wars universe elsewhere. Glover discussed Williams coming to the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story and working as a consultant in recreating a younger version of the character. Williams has also done voiceover work for several of the Star Wars video games as well.
The Hollywood Reporter also notes the death of Carrie Fisher along with the on-screen deaths of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) leaves no one from the original trilogy alive for the final film. Bringing back William's Lando Calrissian, in that sense, is almost a no-brainer.
Lando is the only central human character from the original trilogy who can still join the fight. He provides a link to the past, and a history that began long before our current generation of heroes — Rey, Finn and Poe — were born. The sequel trilogy has quite admirably dealt with the past, anchoring it to perception and myth, while refraining from name-dropping and an over-reliance on fan-service in regard to classic characters.
This final trilogy has done much to humanize the legends that were made of the original stars of the series, with both Han and Luke having to face their past mistakes. Could Lando also come back to reckon with his own checkered past?
Fans will find out when Episode IX arrives. The final Star Wars trilogy installment hits theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.