Before Harrison Ford even completed his final performance as the scruffy looking nerf herder in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, rumors had begun to swirl regarding his eventual replacement in the impending Han Solo spin-off film. The idea of recasting Han Solo, a character synonymous with superstar Harrison Ford, is a daunting proposition, and the search led directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller on a journey of over 2,500 auditions for the role, only for them to land on the very first person they met with: Alden Ehrenreich.
If anyone thought Ehrenreich’s casting was the end of Lord and Miller’s tough casting work, recent news that they still need to cast the role of a previous captain of the Millennium Falcon, Lando Calrissian, shows just how much work they still have in front of them.
Finding someone as smooth and charismatic as a young Billy Dee Williams could potentially be just as difficult as replacing Harrison Ford, as the directors will need to find a young actor that not only looks the part, but can also turn on the charm and swagger of the former Colt 45 spokesman.
The age exact difference Lando and Han isn’t ever specified in Star Wars canon (Billy Dee Williams is 5 years older than Harrison Ford), but the two are played off as longtime friends of a similar age, so we’ve compiled a list of young actors that could fit the part as a fellow of Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo. Here are 15 Actors Who Could Play Lando Calrissian.
15. Shameik Moore
As one of Hollywood’s big up and comers, Shameik Moore garnered a lot of attention as the lead character, Malcom, in Rick Famuyiwa’s break outfilm, Dope. Since then, Shameik has gone on to land a role as one of the main leads in the Netflix/Baz Luhrmann collaboration, The Get Down.
Lando has always been known as the suave and smooth talking gambler — as opposed to the arrogant scoundrel Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich will be playing — and the 21 year old Moore definitely has the charm and charisma to bring that aspect of the caped Calrissian to life. Additionally, Moore’s birthday is Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, so if there’s any bonus points to be awarded here, he definitely deserves a look for that alone.
14. Romeo Miller
Lando has always been portrayed as a bit of a mover and a shaker, a jack of all trades, and an entrepreneur with a sense of style. Romeo Miller is no stranger to any of those traits. As the son of Master P, Miller has been a performer since he was signed to his father’s music label — No Limit Records — in the early 2000s.
Miller is constantly at work. He’s made multiple TV and/or movie appearances each and every year since 2001, he’s also frequently writing and recording new music, he’s launched his own fashion line, done modeling work, and even played college basketball for a few years and finished in the top 5 in season 12 of dancing with the stars. And he’s only 26 years old.
13. Denzel Whitaker
Originally cast as a child extra in Training Day, Denzel’s career took off after his presence was elevated into a larger role. He hasn’t had much trouble finding work, regularly booking TV and movie gigs in the years since Training Day in 2001, but none of his roles have catapulted him into the limelight in the way a turn as Lando Calrissian would.
Whitaker is actually said to be named after the Oscar winning star of Training Day, Denzel Washington, who also starred alongside Whitaker in The Great Debaters. He might not ever reach the same heights as his namesake any time soon (not many ever will), but the 26 year old actor’s ability to consistently find work shows that he might have what it takes to make it in the world of big budget franchises like Star Wars.
Whitaker also embodies Lando’s entrepreneurial spirit through his Blakmouf brand and his individual exploits into photography and directing. As a young and aspiring entertainer, Whitaker presents a great option to portray the future administrator of Cloud City.
12. Marc John Jefferies
Kicking off his career as an infant when he appeared in an American Express commercial, Marc John Jefferies is as comfortable as it gets in front of a camera. His titular role as Isaiah in Losing Isaiah at the age of 4 had him sharing the screen with Halle Barry for her critically acclaimed performance in the film. Jeffries would go on to garner over 50 acting credits over the next 20 years, including a turn as a young 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
As prolific as he is, the 26 year old Jefferies is long overdue for a breakout role. He’s demonstrated excellent work ethic, and has years of experience to vouch for his talent. With a smile that channels pure Billy Dee Williams charm, there’s little reason that his first big budget foray can’t come as the part time captain of the Millennium Falcon and full time scoundrel, Lando Calrissian.
11. Nadji Jeter
If you haven’t heard of Nadji Jeter, you’re not alone. While far from a household name, Nadji has steadily assembled an impressive body of work. The nineteen year-old actor got his start performing at Usher’s New Look Foundation Gala, an event that landed him roles in TV movies and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. After joining the Adam Sandler-led cast of Grown Ups, and reprising his role as Andre McKenzie in Grown Ups 2, Nadji guest starred on a handful of TV shows. Earlier this year, he followed up his big screen appearances in Grown Ups with the apocalyptic sci-fi feature, The 5th Wave. This Chloe Grace Moretz-led film is the ideal showcase in Jeter’s bid for Lando Calrissian.
As the rambunctious character “Poundcake,” Jeter turned in an exciting and action-heavy performance in the film. He’s funny, he’s quick, and should Phil Lord and Christopher Miller want a slightly more youthful Lando, Nadji Jeter is worth a look.
10. Corey Hawkins
He hasn’t been around for as long as some of our other picks, but 27 year old Corey Hawkins has entered the spotlight with a bang. After graduating from the prestigious Julliard School of performing arts in New York City, Hawkins landed a number of small parts before getting the breakout role of Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton, where he drew universal praise for his portrayal of the hip-hop legend.
Since then, Corey has been seen as a recurring character on The Walking Dead, and been cast as the male lead in 24: Legacy along with another a role in the 2017 blockbuster, Kong: Skull Island. He may not be the best physical match available, but when it comes to acting chops, Hawkins undoubtedly has what it takes to play Lando. As a rising star in Hollywood, Lucasfilm would be smart to sign him to a contract as soon as possible, as his value will only go up.
9. Marcus Carl Franklin
Some rumors say that Lucasfilm is in search of a fresh face for the role of Lando, and if that’s the case, they should turn their attention toward Marcus Carl Franklin. Franklin isn’t exactly a Hollywood newcomer, but his short filmography would make him an unknown to most of the general audience.
What Franklin lacks in filmography, he makes up for in talent. His biggest role to date was in the indie flick I’m Not There, where he played one of multiple characters inspired by an element of Bob Dylan. Other inspired characters were played by such talent as Academy Award winners Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Heath Ledger. Marcus himself was even nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his part in the film.
Since then, the 23 year old Franklin has appeared in a few TV shows, but he sticks mostly to indie films, such as But Not For Me, which won the Audience Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival, where he played the lead character, Will. Franklin hasn’t only shown that he’s very skilled, but that he’s also capable of holding his own alongside other industry powerhouse performers. Lucasfilm would continue a trend of smart casting decisions by giving him an audition.
8. Trevor Jackson
After playing the role of Simba for three years on the national tour of The Lion King, Trevor Jackson made the transition to TV, where he’s found success multiple times over, winning a Young Artist Award for his role in an episode of Harry’s Law, and landing recurring roles in both the SyFy original series Eureka and the critically acclaimed CBS series American Crime.
Not to be limited to his work on screen, Trevor is also pursuing a budding music career, and has collaborated with the likes of B.o.B. and half of the Outkast hip-hop duo — Andre 3000. The 19 year old might be on the younger side, but he has the look and versatility needed to share screen time with Ehrenreich’s Han Solo. Jackson would be another opportunity for Lucasfilm to grab a little known up and comer, and his work history shows he definitely deserves a shot at the role.
7. Justice Smith
Justice Smith is another star alongside Shameik Moore in The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s hip-hop centered series, and Smith may be exactly what Lord and Miller are looking for. Justice (seen above alongside Moore) is only twenty-one years old, but he bears a strong resemblance to a much younger Billy Dee Williams. Throw in a mustache and the comparisons are uncanny. Given his singing and dancing showcase on The Get Down, Justice’s talents are evident, as is his ability to cut loose in character. If Lando was as smooth and energetic as they come, then his younger self should be even more amplified.
Though he is relatively new to the business, Justice delivered quality work in the 2015 independent film, Paper Towns. As one of the leads in the film, he demonstrated his ability to build a solid character. He may not have the credentials of his competition, but it’s clear Justice Smith has the raw goods.
6. Michael B. Jordan
While it may seem like an obvious choice, Michael B. Jordan’s rising star is worth serious consideration. Having starred in both big-budget franchise movies and well-crafted independent films, the Fruitvale Station actor brings an enviable resume to the conversation. Across multiple genres, Jordan has demonstrated a versatility and confidence that few actors his age can match. From his adolescent days on HBO’s The Wire to his visceral performance in Creed, Jordan has steadily amassed a resume that fires on all cylinders.
While Fantastic Four was poised to vault his career to the next level, it appears Jordan will finally reap superhero success in the upcoming Black Panther film. At 29, Jordan may be slightly older than the ideal Lando candidate, but he has a reputation and a filmography that separates him from the competition. There’s no doubt Lord and Miller have already considered Jordan to join Alden Ehrenreich in the beloved franchise.
5. Chris O’Neal
At just over six feet tall, Billy Dee Williams backed up his swagger with a solid height. Actor and rapper Chris O’Neal clears the Williams standard by a few inches, making him one of the few actors most physically-suited to the role. As a successful musician with a devoted fan following, Chris has doubled down on his rap career with a growing body of work in Hollywood. Having appeared on Saturday Night Live and several Nickelodeon shows, including You Gotta See This and How to Rock. Chris has steadily built his public persona. He also guest starred on the Disney Channel’s K.C. Undercover and TV One’s Here We Go Again.
Recently cast in the upcoming Netflix series, Greenhouse Academy, the twenty-two year old actor is clearly climbing his way up the industry. While it may be difficult to imagine the relatively unknown actor beside Han Solo, there’s a lot to like about Chris O’Neal.
4. RJ Cyler
Representing the freshest face on this list, RJ Cyler proved that a lengthy filmography isn’t a prerequisite for skill when he charmed his way onto the screen with a spotlight stealing performance in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Since then, the 21 year old’s talent has been recognized with a spot on HBO’s Vice Principals, and even earning him he role of the Blue Ranger in 2017’s Power Rangers reboot.
If Lord and Miller are looking for new young talent, Cyler is a clear option, and Lucasfilm should be happy to get him under contract. Cyler will be making his mark on the big screen one way or the other, and there aren’t many franchises or roles that would give him a better opportunity to get his name out there. Cyler brings the look, the skill, and the charm of everyone’s favorite suave Star Wars entrepreneur.
3. Titus Makin Jr.
In addition to having a star-ready name, Titus Makin Jr. brings a bevy of diverse industry experience to the fray. While attending the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, Titus was hired as an acrobatic tumbler by the New York Knicks. In short, that means Mr. Makin Jr. is a gymnastic superstar who could certainly do some of his own stunts as Lando Calrissian.
As for his acting career, Titus first made waves as David on the hit show, Glee. Lending his theatrical talents and voice to the part, Titus showed he has the gravitas and musicality necessary to bring young Lando to life. After completing his recurring role on the Ryan Murphy-created juggernaut, Titus bagged guest starring parts on Castle, NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy before becoming a fixture of Star-Crossed and more recently, Pretty Little Liars. Titus is looking for a break on the big screen and should definitely be considered for the Han Solo Anthology Film.
2. Donald Glover
At 32 years of age, Donald Glover may be the oldest person on this list, but he’s also already rumored to be the leading candidate for Lando. With the right look and charisma to spare, Glover could be an excellent choice to fill the legendary shoes of Billy Dee Williams. Should the Community star take on the role of the silver-tongued swindler, however, it won’t be his first time in the galaxy far, far away. Robot Chicken fans will remember his work on Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III, where he voiced Mace Windu and a Stormtrooper.
From 30 Rock to Community, Glover has proven his comedic worth time and time again. While some may balk at the idea of a comedy-star piloting the Millennium Falcon, Glover has more than earned his credibility. With a memorable turn in Ridley Scott’s The Martian, and Spider-Man: Homecoming on the horizon, Glover has the ideal resume for landing a major opportunity like Lando.
1. Stephan James
Rather than judging by looks alone, take a listen to Stephan James’ voice. More than any other actor on this list, James seems to capture the vocal resonance that made Billy Dee Williams a household name. When Lando spoke, his speech carried a distinct musicality, a quality James seems to echo. In addition to meeting the physical demands of the role, the twenty-two year old actor would bring years of experience to the role.
After working in a variety of TV shows and movies, James got his first major role as Julian Williams in Degrassi: The Next Generation. In 2014, he broke onto the Hollywood scene in Ava Duvernay’s Martin Luther King biopic, Selma, playing the role of civil rights activist John Lewis. James then ironically replaced John Boyega for the Jesse Owens role in Race when the young actor left to play the part of Finn in The Force Awakens. While Race was met with mixed reviews, James still managed to deliver a performance that garnered critical praise. At just 22 years old, he has the look, the voice, and the resume primed for shenanigans with Han Solo.
Do you have any favorite picks for the next actor to portray the cape wearing, Falcon gambling, Cloud City administrating, slick and smooth scoundrel from a galaxy far far away? Let us hear about it in the comments!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.