As a huge Star Wars fan, I really looked forward to getting Billy Dee Williams’ autograph and attending his panel this year at Dragon Con in Atlanta. I was lucky enough to be able to check both of those items off of my list during the recent Labor day weekend. After the break, check out the ten most interesting things I learned from Williams’ panel, including a social media campaign to get the actor into Star Wars: Episode VII, his thoughts on how his character should be included in the new trilogy and the reason why Lando was wearing Han’s clothes at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.
Lots of informative tidbits came out of Billy Dee Williams talk at Dragon Con. Below are my top ten favorite things I learned from his entertaining panel:
- Per the panel host, Derek Maki, despite rumors to the contrary, none of the original trilogy cast members, including Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford or Mark Hamill, have signed any contracts yet for Star Wars: Episode VII. Billy Dee did say that he feels J.J. would be the “perfect person to oversee” the new Star Wars universe.
- Billy Dee would love Lando to return in Episode VII with a daughter who’s a Jedi. In fact, panel host Maki asked everyone in the room to use the social media hashtag “#bringbacklando” on Twitter and Facebook to convince J.J. Abrams to bring the Lando character back into the Star Wars fold.
- The cape was the key to developing his character as Lando. He always liked that “sort of bigger than life, kind of swashbuckling, kind of roguish, kind of individual…who’s charming and lovely and handsome.” He was thinking of people like Errol Flynn, when he created the character.
- Billy Dee felt that Irvin Kirshner, director of The Empire Strikes Back, was an “actor’s director.” In his opinion, the early films like ESB were more actor-oriented and not as overshadowed by the technical side of special effects like the newer films. Even the non-human characters like Chewbacca or the droids had a “sense of humanity” in the early films.
- He was amazed by the craftsmanship of the sets for Star Wars and the “unsung heroes” that constructed things like the life-size Millenium Falcon. While on set he found himself more interested in talking to the artisans and crew members behind the scenes than the other actors. He stated he’s “not crazy about actors” and doesn’t “like to be around actors too much.” He preferred to hang around other people that were more “interesting.”
- Because he was filming on set in London for Star Wars, he found it funny, when they would always stop at 4 pm for an English tea break.
- Even though they shot Return of the Jedi under the name “Blue Harvest”, fans and reporters still knew about it and some flew planes over the set to try to get a glimpse. Due to the secrecy, the actors were never given full scripts for the movie during the shoot.
- While filming in Arizona for the Jabba the Hutt scenes, he noticed that all the characters had a sexual connotation. He saw the woman walking around with six breasts, Salacious Crumb looking like a phallic appendage to Jabba, and of course, the Sarlacc Pit (the host cut him off from saying what it represented, but we all know what he meant.) He went up to George and said, “George? Wow, man. Interesting mindset.”
- The show he’d like to guest star on would be Big Bang Theory. He feels the show has “brilliant dialogue.” The host then again asked people to tweet and Facebook the hashtag “#LandoOnBigBangTheory” to get him on the show. He also mentioned that he would love to be on the show, Dancing with the Stars, but due to his back trouble, that would never be an option.
- Why is Lando wearing Han’s clothes at the end of The Empire Strikes Back? The host Maki and Billy Dee both have differing answers. Maki thinks that “Lando owned the Millenium Falcon originally and Han stole his clothes.” Billy Dee’s answer was simply that “they were lovers” which brought down the house.
That’s my top ten favorite things I learned from the panel, but he did discuss a lot more than that. If you’d like to check out the full Billy Dee Williams panel, a person who attended the event actually recorded the whole thing and posted it to YouTube. Check out the embedded video below:
Thanks to YouTube user JuraianChamploo for the video.