82-year-old actor Billy Dee Williams, known to millions of “Star
Wars” fans for playing the groundbreaking role of Lando Calrissian in “The
Empire Strikes Back,” has said that he sees himself as gender fluid – or at
least that he sees himself as both masculine and feminine.
Williams, known for his charismatic good looks and suave
demeanor, said in a lengthy
interview with Esquire that the secret of being “cool” is simply to “be
“I never tried to be anything except myself,” he explained. “I think of myself
as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too
The actor said he learned about being cool growing up on the
edge of Harlem, from the guys in the streets “who had a little more smoothness
about them. He then went on to elaborate, “And you see I say ‘himself’ and
‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine. I’m a
very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”
Williams’ 1980 addition to the “Star Wars” franchise was a
groundbreaking moment in pop culture, the first time a man of color was
presented as a romantic, complex, heroic character in the overwhelmingly white context
of a mainstream fantasy/sci-fi film. His iconic character again pushed cultural
boundaries in the stand-alone prequel film, “Solo,” in which a younger Lando, played
by Donald Glover, was implied to be pansexual – something which was
subsequently confirmed by the film’s story writer, Jonathan Kasdan, in an interview
with Huffington Post.
Glover, speaking about the character’s sexuality to Sirius
XM, commented, “How can you not be pansexual in space?”
When Esquire interviewer Matt Miller mentioned to Williams
that the younger actor had explored Lando’s “gender fluidity,” Williams said, “Really?
That kid is brilliant—just look at those videos,” in reference to the video for
the song “This is America,” by Glover’s musical alter ego Childish Gambino.
Williams went on to say that the role of which he is “proudest”
is that of football player and author Gale Sayers in the acclaimed 1971 TV movie
“It was a love story, really. Between two guys. Without sex.
It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division,” the
Williams returns as Lando Calrissian when “Star Wars: The
Rise of Skywalker,” he final installment of the franchise’s original story, hits
movie theaters next month.
Published at Sun, 01 Dec 2019 03:05:25 +0000