Remember In Living Color, the Fox sketch show that had a brief if fiery run in the early nineties? I think my favorite sketch of theirs was I Love Laquita, a spoof, as the title implies, of I Love Lucy, re-imagining Lucille Ball’s famed comic interferer as a black woman, played with great comic force by Kim Wayans, and featuring Jim Carrey, whom the show was famous for breaking, as her Ricky-ish spouse. There was one I Love Laquita, however, that was best.
As it opens, we hear a radio news bulletin, one that Laquita inevitably misses, warning of a Billy Dee Williams impostor on the loose, robbing people all over town, and not to let him into your home. Sure enough, the Billy Dee Williams impostor, played by Keenan Ivory Wayans, arrives a moment later and Laquita, gone gaga, lets him right into her apartment. Before long, it turns out that Ricky has convinced the real Billy Dee Williams to come over for Laquita's birthday, meaning hijinks ensue. In the end, the impostor is found out because he cannot compete with the real Billy Dee’s famously record levels of debonair.
I mention this all because The Wrap reported last week that the forthcoming Han Solo spinoff is eyeing a young Lando Calrissian. All sorts of names have been dropped by all sorts of movie pseudo-news outlets, lists of ten and fifteen and twenty potential Lando Calrissians. And many of the young men mentioned are fine actors, absolutely. It’s simply that asking someone else to assume Lando’s cape is asking the impossible. If the I Love Laquita sketch proved anything it was that no man could dream of successfully impersonating Billy Dee Williams. That’s like a splotch of pasta sauce on your white chambray shirt passing itself off as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Ha! The suaveness of Billy Dee Williams is not second to none; it’s first to no one else; it’s operating on a level of high wave frequency we ordinary humans can’t glean.
In the wake of the Han Solo spinoff, I suggested casting six different actors to embody the full essence of Solo, since simply relying one one actor to manage such a difficult job was certain folly. In the case of Lando, however, six actors could not approximate his essence. Twelve actors could not approximate his essence. A hundred actors could not approximate his essence. No, only one will do, and that one is the one who played him, which is why the only way to cast Young Lando is to cast Old Billy Dee Williams.
And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: wait, Billy Dee Williams is 79 years old, how can he play the young Lando Calrissian? Oh for pete’s sake, people, it’s called time travel. Remember the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboot when the young James T. Kirk improbably has an encounter with the old Spock played, of course, by Leonard Nimoy because of time travel, or something like it? Do that. I really don’t care how. I don’t care if it’s rife with plot holes and the most absurd twist in movie history and sends “Star Wars” fans into hissy fits. None of that matters. All I know is, there is no other alternative.
Billy Dee Williams is not Lando Calrissian; Lando Calrissian is Billy Dee Williams, and anyone else trying to take the part would merely be an impostor.