I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid. I love an adventure. The good versus evil, The Jedi using The Force, Luke Skywalker discovering that Darth Vader is his father and what he should do about this inconvenient truth, wookies, robots and a tough princess-turned-general - Star Wars has it all. I even had two Star Wars birthdays the last two years before the new releases. I’m that kind of fan. When Disney bought LucasFilm and began revamping the franchise with a brand new trilogy and subsequent spin-offs, including this weekend’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, a prequel based on Han Solo and his adventures, fans collectively wondered: What about Lando? For being one of the most impressionable characters, a double-crossing Administrator of Cloud City, and one of the only black characters in the originals, we don’t know much about him. Who is this smooth-talking, cape-wearing old friend of Han Solo? For me, the Solo movie was always about getting to know Lando, especially when I heard Donald Glover was set to play him.
Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story might be the greatest casting choice ever. It takes a certain guy to pull off this kind of morally ambiguous, charismatic space smuggler. Glover’s first toy was a Lando action figure, given to him by his father as he told Ellen in a recent interview. His life came full circle when he was cast as Han Solo’s gambling, charming frenemy in the latest Star Wars spinoff. Glover knows comedy and drama. He’s musically and socially irreverent (we’ve all seen his viral This is America music video as Childish Gambino) and he’s just cool as hell. No one else could be Lando except him. Everything he’s done up until this point has prepared him for this role. Let’s dish on our favorite cape-loving scoundrel and 5 reasons why Donald Glover is just so right for the role.
1. Lando’s Sex Appeal
When we first meet Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, he greets Princess Leia with a “Hello what have we here?” as he kisses her hand. In the new Solo, Lando’s charm is laid down hot and heavy. Glover gets the cadence and charisma of Billy Dee William’s original Lando perfectly, with a little more youth and a wink, this time greeting Qi’ra with a kiss on the hand and calling Han “baby.” He even has very human feelings for his very non-human droid, L3.
Donald Glover addressed Lando’s sexuality as pansexual, with co-writer Jonathan Kasdan confirming the character’s sexual fluidity. “He's coming on to everybody. I mean, yeah, whatever. It just didn't seem that weird to me 'cause I feel like if you're in space it's kind of like, the door is open!" Glover said in a SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Show.
Sex appeal comes easy for Glover. I’m pretty sure people of all genders, races - and even galaxies - felt a little warm around the collar when he did this sleek musical number as his musical alter ego Childish Gambino at the 2018 Grammys. As Katie Rife writes in AVClub “Glover seemed to take inspiration from the time he spent hanging out with legend of ‘70s suavity Billy Dee Williams to prepare for his role as a young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
(Childish Gambino 2018 Grammys)
2. Lando’s Swagalicious Style
In Solo, we get to see more of Lando’s outfits - scarves, bright patterns and of course - the capes. Sharp, smooth and a little flamboyant, he likes the finer things in life and he wants you to know it.
There’s a scene in Solo when Qi’ra and Han kiss in Lando’s “walk-in cape armoire” and it’s clear Lando’s cape obsession runs deep. As Donald Glover explains in a tour of the Millennium Falcon, “I got every cape, ok? I got an every-day cape. I got a sister’s wedding cape. Intergalactic President’s Day cape. This is just if someone gets cold cape.” In another scene, there’s a fire onboard the Millennium Falcon and Qi’ra tries to stop it by using one of Lando’s capes. He doesn’t care about the fire. “Not the cape!” he yells.
When Donald Glover won the Emmy for Best Directing for a comedy series (making history as the first black director to do so) he one-upped the other nominees by being so extra and so bold in a purple Gucci tux, continuing his reign of red carpet swaggery. “The sea of black clothing that we see at awards shows now makes Donald Glover’s sophisticated peacockery this year all the more fabulous and perfect” says Choire Sicha of the New York Times. Playing with bold colors and capes in space wasn’t too much of a stretch for Glover’s rich style. Check out his hottest red carpet looks.
3. Lando’s Wit
One of Lando’s best lines in Solo is when his pay from their mission will be reduced in order for Woody Harrelson’s character to remove restraining gear on Lando’s beloved Millennium Falcon. “I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. But I accept it” he says. At the special fan screening I attended in Hollywood, the audience roared at this line. Everyone was laughing. There was a special flare and fire Glover put into the role, giving us a wider view of who this Lando is - especially as a much younger man.“Shh,” he says to Han Solo at one point. “The grownups are talking.”
Another punchy line happens when we think the ship is about to be consumed by a space monster and Lando yells “Oh shi-!” and it cuts to an explosion. Maybe the closest Star Wars has ever come to using a swear word. Of course it would be from Lando.
From his time as a writer on 30 Rock to his stand up comedy, his role on Community, and now Atlanta, where he’s won two Golden Globes and four Emmys, Glover knows comedic timing. And who can forget this favorite scene in Atlanta when he tries to order a kids meal?
(Kids Meal scene on Atlanta)
4. He Still Calls Han Solo by The Wrong Name To Burn Him
Everyone calls Han Solo “Han” that rhymes with Don. For some reason, in Return of the Jedi, the original Lando calls Han, H-Anne to rhyme with Anne. Maybe it was Billy Dee William’s own pronunciation of the name. Without missing a beat, Glover’s Lando does it right from the start in the new Solo to get under Han’s skin in the card game, and never stops.
Donald Glover knows how to upset the game in real life. He wrote a mock script of Deadpool to burn them (the executives? FX? It wasn’t clear who it was directed towards exactly) after it was announced he would no longer be involved in the animated series. Glover and his brother were going to write, executive produce and serve as showrunners. He released the 15 page script on Twitter, saying “For the record, I wasn’t too busy to work on Deadpool.” Game. Set. Match. Total Lando move.
5. Lando On SNL
When Glover met the original Lando, Billy Dee Williams told him to “just be cool, man.” And that’s what he was on SNL when he did double duties as host and musical guest. His Lando impression on SNL was our first glimpse of him in the Lando role before the movie came out. He auditioned for SNL twice and never got it! If ever a person was meant to be in the cast of SNL, it is Donald Glover. In Lando attitude, he played it off as their loss.
In the Lando skit, he’s called a summit for all the black humans in the Star Wars galaxy, but, surprise, there are only a few. “Where the hell are all the black people in space?” We wondered the same.
The only thing Solo: A Star Wars Story left us wanting was more Lando. He deserves his own spinoff.
What do you think? Would you watch a Star Wars spinoff without the Solo and all of the Lando?