Billy Dee Williams, best known for his portrayal of Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars universe, has revealed he identifies as gender-fluid.
In the interview with Esquire, Williams elaborated on the terms by which he defines himself:
“I never tried to be anything except myself. I think of myself as a relatively colourful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously… And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine.”
Williams’ revelation comes ahead of his return to the franchise in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – his first appearance since Return of the Jedi more than 35 years ago. This final episode in the Skywalker saga is ostensibly an ending, but his response to the future of his character was cheeky as ever:
“It’s a conclusion—certainly it depends on how much money is generated. That’s when they determine where’s the conclusion,” Williams added winking. “The one thing about show business, you can resurrect anything.”
Get that again. How many franchises can you recall having endless sequels farmed out till all creative juices have been sucked dry because the crowds keep coming? Too many. Not that I’m inferring anything (really, I’m not). Lando fans will be calmly aware that The Rise of Skywalker, though tracking lower than its immediate predecessors, is still likely to be a box office success, in the way that Solo (remember that one?) wasn’t.
Are future Billy Dee drop-ins on the cards then? As he suggested, for a cash-cow as gargantuan as Star Wars, never say never. More likely are further iterations of the character, rather than necessarily Williams himself making further comebacks. After all, Donald Glover has already given us one new take on the Landoverse in the aforementioned Solo. Maybe I can pitch the idea of an Into the Spider-Verse film to Disney, only with, er, Lando?
In any case, he’ll be back in the hands of Billy Dee Williams this Christmas. And whatever your thoughts are on the gender identity debate, and believe me, I do not have the time nor the word count to get into that (that’ll be the next edition in a series I like to call pub talk, except I’m the only one who can read it), I think we’re all looking forward to his latest Star Wars performance. All the best, Billy.