Billy Dee Williams will indeed reprise his famous role of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: Episode IX. The actor first joined the galaxy far, far away back in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, and came back for Return of the Jedi. While Williams has portrayed Lando in other Star Wars mediums (including a guest spot on Rebels), he has been absent from the feature films ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Donald Glover played a younger version of Lando in this summer's Solo, but the sequel trilogy has made no mention of the character to this point.
For a while now, it looked like that was going to change. Not only has Williams been getting into shape with a new training regimen, he recently canceled a convention appearance due to a "film schedule conflict." It appears the rumors are true, and Williams will help bring the saga to a close with a role in Star Wars 9.
Related: All the Star Wars 9 Rumors & Leaks
The news comes courtesy of THR, who heard from sources Williams is returning. This is the second big piece of Star Wars casting news in a matter of days, following Keri Russell coming onboard in a mysterious, action-heavy role.
Anyone who's been following Star Wars 9's development knows the film has gone through a number of changes since it was first announced. Not only did J.J. Abrams replace Colin Trevorrow as director, the original plan called for General Leia Organa to be at the forefront of the story. After the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher in late 2016, Lucasfilm was forced to start over, and they apparently landed in this direction. While it remains to be seen how significant a part Lando has in Episode IX, at the moment it's reasonable to assume he will be the main legacy character who acts as a mentor to the younger generation. It's worth mentioning Williams is 81 years old, so he may not do much action, but he should be able to participate in a set piece if need be. Perhaps he can fly the Millennium Falcon again and be reunited with L3-37.
Intriguingly, Lando has ties to Kylo Ren. When Ben Solo was a child, he knew Calrissian affectionately as "Uncle Lando," so it'll be interesting to see if that relationship comes into play at all. If Lando is leading the Resistance, odds are he'll cross paths with Kylo at some point. Regardless of what happens there, fans should have fun watching Williams inhabit the role again, at a very different point in Lando's life. Viewers will always have a hard time accepting none of the original trilogy's main trio are around in-universe anymore, but this bit of news helps soften the blow a bit. Moviegoers have wanted Lando to return for years, and now he's back.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019