Nearly four decades after playing Lando Calrissian in the original Star Wars trilogy, Billy Dee Williams will finally reprise the role in the upcoming film The Rise Of Skywalker. In a new interview ahead of the film’s premiere, the 82-year-old has revealed that he is gender fluid.
Williams recently spoke with Matt Miller of Esquire magazine, and when the topic of gender identity came up the actor said he uses both “himself” and “herself.”
“You see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” explained Williams. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”
During the conversation, Miller brought up Donald Glover’s SiriusXM interview where he spoke about playing a younger version of Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story and described the character as pansexual.
That was the first time Williams had heard about it, but he called Glover “brilliant” and referenced his Childish Gambino video This Is America.
While Williams achieved superstar status for his work in the Star Wars franchise, he says that he is most proud of his 1971 film Brian’s Song, which told the true story of Chicago Bears teammates-turned-best friends Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, the first interracial roommates in the NFL.
Williams played Sayers in the classic tearjerker, and James Caan played the role of Piccolo, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1969 and died at the age of 26 in 1970 after just four seasons with the Bears.
“It was a love story, really,” said Williams. “Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division.”
As for his Star Wars character, Williams says that people didn’t expect what he presented on screen. And, he deliberately presented something nobody had experienced before – “a romantic brown-skinned boy.”
Williams joked that he might play Lando again after the Rise of Skywalker if it generates enough money, and the one thing about show business is that you can resurrect anything. He also thinks that between Return of the Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, Lando was “like Steve Wynn, running Las Vegas.”
Billy Dee Williams says he sees Lando Calrissian as a gambler, a bit of a showman, and a bit of an entrepreneur, instead of a “general running around shooting things.”
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker will hit theaters nationwide on December 20th.