Billy Dee Williams, who is best known for playing Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars films, shared in a recent interview with Esquire that he sees himself “as feminine as well as masculine.”
“I never tried to be anything except myself. I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously,” Williams, 82, said.
“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,“ he added.
Later this month, Williams will return as Lando in the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for the first time since Return of the Jedi in 1983. But Williams said the role he’s most proud of is his Emmy-nominated performance as Gale Sayers in the 1971 TV movie Brian’s Song.
“It was a love story, really,“ he told Esquire. “Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division.“
Williams’ return to Star Wars was announced in July 2018. He joined the franchise for its second installment, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, and again in Return of the Jedi in 1983 before Donald Glover played a younger version of the galaxy’s slickest smuggler in the spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story, released last year.
In April, Williams surprised fans at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago when he discussed his role in The Rise of Skywalker.
“How did I find Lando again? Lando never left me!” he said when asked what it was like to return to his character.
The actor also joked about his character being seen as a traitor to Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo, telling the crowd, “I have to explain this stuff to people I don’t know why. I get sick and tired of being accused of betraying Han Solo.”
Williams is one of the last original actors to return to the franchise after Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprised their roles as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, respectively, in the first two films of the new trilogy.
Fisher died in 2016, but she will appear in The Rise of Skywalker thanks to previously unused footage of her from The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker flies into theaters on Dec. 20.