Billy Dee Williams' planned appearance at the Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo this year has been canceled, fueling rumors he will be in Star Wars: Episode IX. Despite serving a key supporting role in the original trilogy, Williams' Lando Calrissian has not even been mentioned by name in the two released installments of the sequel trilogy. Rian Johnson attempted to find a spot for the fan-favorite scoundrel in The Last Jedi, but it was never a natural fit. As great as it would be to see Lando again, many fans would agree it'd be best if it wasn't just empty fan service.
It's becoming likely J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio were able to crack the code for Star Wars 9. Earlier this year, Williams' new training regimen sparked speculation he was getting into shape for a return to the galaxy far, far away. That bit of news was shortly followed by a report saying Williams was in the film, and it was only a matter of time before it was officially unveiled. Now, we may have the most convincing nugget of evidence that Lando will help close out the saga.
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On June 28, 2018, the Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo Facebook page announced Williams will not attend as originally intended "due to a film schedule conflict." For his part, the actor expressed regret and looks forward to going to the convention in 2019.
The fact that Williams' reasoning was specifically described as a "film schedule conflict" points to him being in Star Wars 9. He currently doesn't have any other feature-length productions on the docket, and the timing of all of this adds up. Abrams will commence principal photography later this month, while the Saskatchewan Expo takes place September 15 and 16. Of course, major studio tentpoles like Star Wars take several months to shoot, so it's reasonable to assume Williams would be preoccupied with reprising Lando for a while. For comparison's sake, production on Abrams' The Force Awakens ran from May to November 2014. Even if things move along at a quicker pace this time around, filming should take longer than two months.
It'll be interesting to see if Williams is included on the official Episode IX cast list when cameras start to roll. As evidenced by keeping Frank Oz in The Last Jedi a secret, Lucasfilm isn't beyond preserving the surprise of a legacy actor returning. That being said, if Lando is in Star Wars 9, it'll likely be for a more sizable part than a single-scene cameo - especially since he can't work a convention appearance around the shooting schedule. With Star Wars 9 in need of a veteran leader to help guide the young leads of the sequels, General Lando Calrissian could be called upon to save the day again. Maybe he'll even get to fly the Millennium Falcon one last time.
Source: Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019