While Disney/Lucasfilm seems focused on making sure the new Star Wars characters like Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are placed front and center in the marketing campaign for J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens, much of the fan excitement for the project has been generated by the fact that the film marks the return of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher in their iconic original trilogy roles.
And Luke, Han, and Leia are hardly the only old-time favorites that will be showing up in the new movie. Veteran Star Wars actors ranging from Peter Mayhew to Kenny Baker to Warwick Davis are on board for the return journey to the galaxy far, far away. And yet, there's one major omission that has never been a part of this whole event, even though fans have been clamoring for him: Billy Dee Williams.
The actor behind the suave scoundrel Lando Calrissian has reprised his famous role in voice-over form for the Star Wars Rebels TV series, but seeing that Force Awakens is something of a class reunion, many have been wondering why the character is seemingly absent from Episode VII. One has to admit it does seem a bit odd that Lando's whereabouts haven't even been mentioned, especially considering his sizable parts in the final two installments of the classic trilogy.
However, Lando supporters may be able to get a chance to see their man on the big screen in due time. While being interviewed by Cinelinx, Williams was asked about the outrage over his exclusion from the Force Awakens cast, and he stated that he may have a role to play down the line:
"Yeah, people were pretty upset about it. But I uh...I may very well...I have a feeling I’m going to show up. There’s nothing I can really discuss about it at this stage."
In their report, Cinelinx wrote that the context of Williams' response indicated that he was talking about the sequel trilogy in general, and not just this December's Episode VII. Williams later added that he "can't imagine them not bringing Lando back," and said we'd all have to wait and see.
Viewers have grown accustomed to actors playing coy when it comes to discussing their involvement with major tentpole franchises, which is what seems to be going on in this case. Star Wars fans would be justified in assuming that Williams has had at least some kind of preliminary discussions with Lucasfilm pertaining to his possible return to the live-action films; and with Lando showing up on Rebels there's obviously no hard feelings between the two parties. Williams loves playing this character and would be more than happy to appear in the movies again.
That said, those hoping that a surprise Force Awakens cameo is in the works shouldn't hold their breath. In the same interview, Williams claimed that he hasn't seen anything from the production (including the ballyhooed teaser trailer), but is very much looking forward to seeing it when the film is released. Unless he has secrets that are locked deep in the vault, it doesn't appear as if Lando will be showing up in Episode VII. And besides, he's such a big part of the franchise that his involvement would have been made public by now if he were in it.
While it may not be the confirmation that longtime fans are looking for, these words are certainly encouraging for those left stewing over Lando's absence. This may end up being nothing more than wishful thinking on Williams' part, but if he has a feeling he'll be back, that's as good a sign as any that the old smoothie will be part of a future feature. Either way, here's hoping that Episode VII at least makes mention of Lando's current state so fans can get some peace of mind.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be in theaters December 18, 2015.