WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Rian Johnson briefly considered bringing Lando Calrissian back for Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. Billy Dee Williams played the smuggler-turned-Rebellion General, and former owner of the Millennium Falcon, in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but his current whereabouts are unknown in Lucasfilm's Star Wars sequel trilogy. He hasn't been mentioned once in either J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi.
Given that the Resistance is at the edge of their rope in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it would make sense for Lando to be fighting alongside his friends and former allies - including his former co-pilot, Nien Nunb - in their battle with the First Order, but that wasn't the case. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) went back to smuggling, and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) sought out the first Jedi temple not only to live out the rest of his days but to end the Jedi Order as well. So, there wasn't any room for Lando to come back. But considering that the First Order now reigns across the galaxy, perhaps now is the best time to bring Han's old buddy back into the fold. As it turns out, Johnson initially thought the same thing, but he couldn't make it work.
In an interview with Yahoo! Movies, Rian Johnson said he considered bringing back Lando Calrissian for The Last Jedi, possibly for the role of the master codebreaker that Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) try to find on the casino planet Canto Bight but, instead, come across another code-breaker, DJ (Benicio del Toro).
“Believe me I thought about [bringing Lando back], believe me, I did, and it just wouldn’t work. For reasons I can’t really talk about without getting into spoilers, Lando even in the position of any… just specific story reasons that he would not have worked, like in the capacity of the DJ part – Benicio’s part – there’s a reason that had to be a new character and couldn’t just be Lando."
Interestingly, though, Hamill thought having Lando as the master code-breaker who plays at high-stakes tables on Canto Bight would be brilliant. After all, Lando is quite the gambler.
“Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon in a game of chance [with Lando]. You’d think he’d be the casino boss. I love Billy Dee Williams, and you’re right, I think anyone who’s still around that had anything to do with the original trilogy deserves to come back in some way."
Considering that Lando never showed much inclination for code-breaking, Johnson's reasons certainly make sense with regard to the overarching narrative, but it's hard not to think that the film's last act doesn't set up a way for Billy Dee Williams to return to the fold as Lando Calrissian in Abrams' upcoming sequel, Star Wars: Episode IX. For now, though, Star Wars fans can look forward to seeing Donald Glover portray a young Lando in Ron Howard's 2018 film, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019