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Billy Dee Williams to Return as Lando in Star Wars: Episode IX

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Star Wars: Episode IX, the conclusion to the most recent Star Wars trilogy, is set to premiere December 2019, with The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returning at the helm. And now, The Hollywood Reporter writes that actor Billy Dee Williams will reprise his iconic role as space scoundrel Lando Calrissian. This marks one of the longest gaps between appearances of a character played by the same actor in American film history. Actor Donald Glover portrayed a younger Lando in the standalone Solo: A Star Wars Story. With the mysterious absence of Lando in the sequel triology, many fans were left displeased. The news of his return for the upcoming Star Wars film leaves fans thrilled. 

The film, set to release in December 2019, will have a lot of the cast from the new Star Wars trilogy. The famous characters of R2-D2 and Chewbacca will be back. The late Carrie Fisher will also reprise her role of Leia Organa through the use of unreleased footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Actress Keri Russell will also join the cast for the upcoming film. 

Lando Calrissian first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back, and Williams reprised the role in Return of the Jedi. He was first introduced as an old friend of Han Solo, as well as the original owner of the Millennium Falcon. The character has also appeared in the animated series Star Wars Rebels (voiced by Williams), and the live-action anthology movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, which features a young Lando played by Donald Glover. Lando also frequently appeared in the Star Wars expanded universe of novels, comic books, and video games. However, Lando has been mysteriously absent in the sequel trilogy this far — and after all this time, fans are thrilled by the news of his return. 

Other characters set to return include the famous humanoid robot C-3P0, portrayed by Anthony Daniels. Both C-3P0 and R2-D2 are the only characters to appear in all Star Wars films except Solo: A Star Wars Story. The return of Luke Skywalker comes as a bit of a surprise. Luke Skywalker, portrayed by Mark Hamill, died in The Last Jedi but will be brought back as a Force Ghost, as dead characters are usually reintroduced in Star Wars. Leia Organa will also make a Skywalker comeback. Despite Carrie Fisher's death in December 2016, the film will incorporate unseen footage into the final installment.    

RELATED: Is Star Wars Still Special? 

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  • Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in Return of the Jedi

  • Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Director J.J. Abrams began a new chapter in the Star Wars story through 2015's The Force Awakens. It was followed by Rian Johnson's 2017 epic space opera The Last Jedi which quickly became the highest grossing film of 2017. Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was set to direct the final installment but later parted ways due to creative differences. Now J.J. Abrams is back to direct the third and final installment to the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Lucasfilm has confirmed that this will be the final film based around the Skywalker clan. 

Variety recently reported another major casting surprise: Keri Russell may be joining the cast of Episode IX. Russell previously worked with J.J. Abrams on Felicity and Mission: Impossible III. It's not known yet what role she will play, but based on her performances in The Americans, Mission: Impossible III, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Russell clearly knows her way around a fight scene. The Crown's Matt Smith was another late addition to the cast with an unidentified "key role" in the sequel. 

Related: Star Wars Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best

This deal is getting better all the time: catch the return of this far away galaxy in theaters on December 20th, 2019.

Featured still from "Return of the Jedi" via Lucasfilm

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