Last weekend I attended Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle Washington. Originally Carrie Fisher was supposed to attend but had to back out for medical reasons. Billy Dee Williams was also attending and as a result ended up with more attention placed on him.
His panel was on Friday March 1st in the big hall. The moderator did a nice job of fielding questions to Billy Dee about his career from his earlier works, to of course STAR WARS. The 2 things Billy Dee is most known for are being Land0 Calrissian and being the spokesperson for Colt 45. He got asked several things about being in “Lady Sings the Blues” as well. Billy Dee reflected that he enjoys getting recognized for all of his iconic roles – even as the Colt 45 spokesperson.
When asked about STAR WARS he couldn’t readily recall any funny moments on the set, but he just remembers how fondly he enjoyed working with the actors and being directed by Irvin Kershner. He described George Lucas as being very focused on his vision and didn’t spend a lot of time working with the actors but was very dedicated to working with his teams of special FX folks. He joked that Nien Numb was his favorite co-star.
Billy Dee was asked if he managed to infuse much of his own personality into crafting Lando Calrissian, he said he wasn’t sure, he mostly remembered the cape and felt that the cape was a big part of Lando’s character and helped to set the stage for his suaveness. Sadly, he did not keep anything from the films and if there was only one item that he could’ve kept, it would’ve been that cape.
When asked about the prequels, he said that he liked them. Billy Dee said that being an artist, he sees the wonder and merit of using new mediums to tell a story. He thinks visual FX and CGI are a wonderful new tools to describe stories. Although he did think that the films he starred in were more character driven, he enjoyed the other films.
Inevitably the questions came up about whether he’d come back for the sequels and what his thoughts were about the Disney merger. He first off stated that he couldn’t think of a better studio to steward and continue the STAR WARS legacy than Disney. He of course stated that he’d be delighted to return to the films. He emphatically stated that he’s rather possessive towards Lando as a character and really doesn’t want anyone else to play the role until he dies. He talked about how much fun he had voicing Lando for both “Robot Chicken” and “STAR WARS Detours.” He said, if Disney calls he will happily be on board with the new trilogy.
The panel finally ended with a fan group called “The Lando Society” showed up and asked Billy Dee if he would be willing to be inducted into their group as a special member. Their initiation ended with Billy Dee receiving a cape and a t-shirt. I don’t think that man has EVER been happier in his life. Here’s a video of the induction: