Entertainment Weekly recently did a cover story for Solo: A Star Wars Story, and in their long interview with Donald Glover — who is playing a young Lando Calrissian — he revealed his lunch meeting with Billy Dee Williams and how he got to do some improv on set. When he sat down for lunch with Williams, he got some advice that he’s repeated in a lot of interviews: just be charming.
“It was really, really relaxed. He was great. I mean, I had a lot of questions. And then he just told me, just be charming. [Laughs] And so, I was like, ‘Okay!’ I just kind of did that. He said, ‘Just be interested in things.’ Lando has, I wouldn’t say eccentric, but eclectic tastes. So I tried to work that into the role as much as possible.”
Glover was curious about a lot of things and really wanted to pick Williams’s brain — not just about the character specifically, but about what it felt like being one of the only people of color in the series.
“I just wanted to know, Star Wars was such a big deal and then they make the second one and you’re kind of the first and the almost only black guy in the universe at that point. I was like, How did you go into that? What were your thoughts? It’s always a big thing when you break a mold. What was the thought process of that? He gave some good advice about this, about being yourself as much as possible, making the character a real person, rather than the whole identity for a whole group of people.”
In one of the released pictures we see Lando playing a card game with a two-headed alien. We don’t know if that’s the specific game where Han wins the Falcon, but Glover did reveal that he got to do some improv with that puppeteer.
“Yeah, we are playing a game of sabacc. And that character, I mean, I had a good time with that character. We improv’d a lot together actually. She doesn’t speak English so it’s a little hard, but I had a fun time with those [puppeteers], they are really good. Probably some really good outtakes on set.”
Despite the language barrier, it wasn’t like trying to improv off of no one. Instead it, was more like improving off of not only the people working the puppet, but the puppet itself.
“Oh no, no. It’s actually not. It’s way different. First of all there’s two people working that thing, so you have two minds going back and forth and they are super expressive, the puppeteers are super expressive. So you will have a conversation, and you’re reading them. It’s not like a baby where they are in their own world. They know exactly what you are seeing and their reaction actually means something.”
Hardcore fans are probably just happy to see the word “puppet” because it means practical effects, but it’s interesting to hear Glover describe what it was like working against something that can’t really talk back.
Summary: Han Solo and Chewbacca’s adventures before joining the Rebellion, including their early encounters with Lando Calrissian.
Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Ron Howard, stars Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, and Thandie Newton. It will be released May 25th.