Billy Dee Williams appeared on Entertainment Weekly’s “Dagobah Dispatch” podcast and discussed the backlash he’s faced throughout the years due to the “Star Wars” franchise. Williams debuted as Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back,” which includes a moment in which Lando makes a deal with the Empire that leads to Han Solo being captured and frozen in carbonite. Some “Star Wars” fans still have not forgiven Lando and the backlash extended into Williams’ real life.
“When I would pick my daughter up from school, the kids would run up to me and say, ‘You betrayed Han Solo!’” Williams said. “I’d go on an airplane and the airplane stewards would say, ‘You betrayed Han Solo!’ I got that for a lot of years.”
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Williams explained that he would try to reason with upset “Star Wars” fans and tell them: “Look, think about the whole situation. You’re up against a pretty formidable character in Darth Vader. And then there’s, of course, Boba Fett. And these people were invading my space and I had to bargain with them. But the bargain at least prevented the complete demise of Han Solo and his friends. But I had to hold on to my whole situation.”
“So I found myself explaining all this stuff to a point where I finally said to people, ‘Look, I’m tired of explaining all of this,'” he added. “I said, ‘Did anybody die? Nobody died!’ I think that was a clear indication that Lando was trying to figure something out and he was trying to figure out primarily how to hold onto his situation without the complete demise of his friend.”
Williams would reprise the role of Lando in “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “The Rise of Skywalker” (2019), while a younger version of the character was played by Donald Glover in “Solo” (2018). News broke last July that Glover and his brother, Stephen, had been tapped by Disney and Lucasfilm to replace Justin Simien as the writers of a new “Lando” television series on Disney+. However, Variety confirmed last fall the project is being developed as a “Lando” movie instead.
As for Williams, the 86-year-old actor is gearing up to release his new memoir, “What Have We Here?,” on Feb. 13.
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