The Empire Strikes Back

Billy Dee Williams is a man familiar with losing out on iconic parts. In 1989, Williams famously played Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s first Batman movie, on the assumption that it would lead to a role as the villainous Two-Face somewhere down the line. Instead, when the franchise finally got around to the character (after a detour into Penguin-land for Batman Returns), Tommy Lee Jones took on the bifurcated role. Now, the actor is watching as Donald Glover takes over the part of Lando Calrissian, the smooth-talking space pirate that has been a core part of Williams’ public identity for the past 30 years, in the upcoming Han Solo. Needless to say, he’s feeling ambivalent about the change.

“I don’t know…I just see myself as Lando,” Williams told The Hollywood Reporter, in a recent interview intended to promote his upcoming chance to finally play Two-Face in The Lego Batman Movie. “I mean, Lando has been very much a part of my life for over 30 years. When I go out and do conventions and stuff like that, even though people know me from all the other things that I’ve done, certainly [Lando] takes precedence.”

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Not that he bears Glover any ill-will; the two were spotted getting lunch together recently in Los Angeles, during which Glover grilled him with questions about the character. “He’s a very delightful young man, I must say,” Williams said. “We had a very nice lunch and we talked for a very long time and it was very easy.” Williams says he even listened to Glover’s music, declaring it “pretty good,” and said he’d be open to a Han Solo cameo if Disney sent an invitation his way. There was just one point he wouldn’t budge on: When asked about Glover’s statement that he wasn’t “as cool” as Williams, the actor jokingly confirmed, “Well, nobody’s as cool as me.”