Billy Dee Williams’ roguish space scoundrel Lando Calrissian was considered for a return trip to the the galaxy far, far away in the latest Star Wars saga. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson had been outspoken about the character’s absence leading up to the film’s release, making sure fans didn’t get their hopes up, but audiences still demanded clearer answers about Lando’s future in the series.
Before the film's release, Johnson told SYFY WIRE that there simply wasn’t a place for another legacy character: “Someone like Lando, for example, who I would've loved to have worked with as Billy Dee Williams, would be lovely to get back in there. There just wasn't room for anything like that.”
But, according to The Playlist's recent interview, Johnson tried to figure out how to make room. “In terms of Lando, I briefly considered — would he work in the Benicio [del Toro] part,” Johnson said.
SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi from this point on -- if you have not seen it, we suggest that you do, and then come back.
Del Toro plays DJ, an unscrupulous codebreaker who initially helps Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) escape a Canto Bight prison, then hack into the First Order’s hyperspace-tracking ship. Then he betrays them.
If Lando was in cahoots with such an unscrupulous soul, Johnson argues, it wouldn’t have tracked well with the character’s heroic, second Death Star-defeating past.
“I don’t think you would ever buy that Lando would just completely betray the characters like that and have that level of moral ambiguity. 'Cause we love Lando and you’d come into it with that [expectation of goodness],” Johnson continued.
That said, it’s not like Lando has a perfect track record, considering his initial betrayal in Empire Strikes Back, so perhaps he could’ve (with a few tweaks) fit that role -- or that of the hacker Finn and Rose sought on the casino planet in the first place.
Granted, the planet was filled with arms dealers and First Order sympathizers, so that could certainly have soured fans on the ultimately heroic favorite.
So no, Lando didn’t end up in Episode VIII. But he'll definitely appear in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Or at least a younger version of him will anyway, played by Donald Glover. All you have to do is wait until May 25, 2018, to see that sweet ‘stache on the big screen once again.