Billy Dee Williams is perhaps best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in the 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, but at 82-years-old, Williams wants you to know he’s breaking the gender binary.
The Star Wars actor recently opened up about his gender fluidity and using both he/him and she/her pronouns in an interview with Esquire. "I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine," he said. "I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”
“I never tried to be anything except myself,” Williams said. “I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”
When told that Donald Glover, who portrayed Lando in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, discussed embracing gender fluidity and sexuality ahead of his debut in the Star Wars franchise, Williams lights up. “Really? That kid is brilliant — just look at those videos,” he said, referencing Glover’s song “This Is America”.
Williams reprised his role as Lando in the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker, the final movie of the Skywalker saga. During the interview the actor also reflected how playing Lando opened doors for him and other actors of color including The Rock and Jamie Foxx, who both say they are indebted to him for their careers. According to Esquire, Lando marked the inclusion of “a complex Black character” in a genre that still remains “notoriously white.”
Williams cites the most memorable moment of his career as his role in Brian's Song as Gale Sayers, a 1971 Emmy award winning film about two football players who were roommates and best friends. “It was a love story, really," Williams said of that film. "Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division.”
When asked if “this is the end for Lando,” Williams said that it depends on “how much money is generated.”
“It’s a conclusion — certainly it depends on how much money is generated. That’s when they determine where’s the conclusion,” he said. “The one thing about show business, you can resurrect anything.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to be released on December 20 with unused footage of Carrie Fisher being used to help complete the story. Fisher who would have played a key role in the film, died in December 2016 before filming.