Actor Billy Dee Williams, right, made his film and television debuts in 1959 and continues to perform. But he's best known as Lando Calrissian, swashbuckling friend and rival of Han Solo in the Star Wars film franchise.
Williams, 75, spoke briefly to the Herald- Leader to promote his appearance at the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention this weekend.
Question: Lando Calrissian remains so popular 30 years after you played him that you're still asked to provide his voice for animation and video games and you're still invited to fan conventions. Why?
Answer: Well, you know, I've also been pretty popular in the movies for a lot of years for some of the other characters I've done. Certainly I think I was successful with Lando because, because first of all, I played the character. I think I created a very interesting kind of individual with all of the elements that people find appealing. He's a roguish kind of character. He's an attractive character. I am a pretty good actor, let's put it that way.
Q: Any regrets about being so closely associated with Lando?
A: Oh, no, no, no. I'm pretty happy about it. I get an opportunity to travel around the world and meet all of the great fans who have given me support over the years. I think that any time an actor can be successful with creating a character that people remember, it gives an actor a bit of longevity.
Q: Apparently, Lando's biography is fleshed out in a long series of Star Wars novels and comic books, from his wayward youth as a gambler to his comfortable retirement. Do you follow those stories?
A: No, I haven't read any of them.
Q: Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, will be at this convention, too. You got the better deal on costumes, didn't you? You got the cool pirate shirt and cape, and he had to wear a furry Wookie outfit. How many people even recognize his face?
A: Well, he's pretty tall. (Mayhew is 7-foot-2.) I don't think there will be any problem with people recognizing him.
Q: There are rumors that you'll appear in the next Star Wars trilogy with Harrison Ford and your other old co-stars. True?
A: I have no idea. Nothing has been decided yet. They'll let me know.