Billy Dee Williams Reflects on Love, Life, and Lando in New Memoir
At the age of 86, Billy Dee Williams can look back on his life with both the wisdom and whimsy of age.
Ahead of this release of his new memoir What Have We Here? Portrait of Life?, the storied actor is reflecting on his career and evaluating the impact that he had on both those around him and Hollywood as a whole.
While Williams has been a star of stage and screen for almost eight decades (he started on Broadway at age 7), it is his role as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars that he is perhaps best known for.
Joining Star Wars
Williams debuted as the suave, swashbuckling Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, immediately making his presence felt in a galaxy far, far away.
In his autobiography, alongside recollections of love, life, and laughter, Williams takes readers behind the scenes of Star Wars. He even recalls meeting Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher for the first time.
“Meeting the original cast from the first “Star Wars” movie was a big thrill. I loved Carrie. She was a really wonderful young woman and extremely bright. And Harrison and I became good friends,” he says.
In creating Lando Calrissian, Williams melded his own personality with the swashbuckling persona of Errol Flynn. Perhaps a little Buck Rogers was thrown in there as well.
“Anytime you do a character, you bring a lot of yourself. But I wanted to really do something a little bit special with Lando. He was a person of the future, really, basically. And then, of course, when I got the cape, that was like Errol Flynn time for me. I was trying to really make a real hero, a dubious hero, which is always best because it makes the character much more interesting.”
While Lando is perhaps best remembered for his cool persona, Williams wanted the character to have more depth than that. In addition to his swagger, there is an emotional depth to Lando that has helped make him so memorable.
“I wanted to give that character a certain vulnerability, and I think it worked out just fine. Even though I got accused of betraying Han Solo for a while there.”
The Story Continues
In the end, Williams’ decision-making paid off. 39 years after debuting as Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, Williams would reprise his iconic role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Williams’ return to Star Wars was lauded by fans and critics alike. Despite being welcomed as a returning hero, after almost 80 years of work, surely Williams has thought about retiring? Well, maybe not.
“No. (Pauses) I don’t know. From day to day, I live from moment to moment. Each moment will dictate to me what and how I should conduct my life. The main thing is to stay healthy, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
What Have We Here? Portrait of a Life will hit bookshelves on February 13.