Film and television super-fans are known to be an overly passionate and occasionally volatile group, with some leaping over McDonald’s counters to demand discontinued screen-mentioned menu items, calling in death threats to actors simply doing their jobs, and one notable example attempting to kill a sitting president of the United States in the 1980s.
The Empire Strikes Back‘s Billy Dee Williams serves as an unfortunate recipient of fan ire, receiving hundreds of angry letters and fan indignation since his character Lando Calrissian sold out Han Solo in 1980. Williams details his poor treatment from Star Wars fans in the 2018 book Star Wars Insider: Icons Of The Galaxy.
Billy Dee Williams Receives Death Threats For Lando’s Betrayal Of Han Solo
The film, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest Star Wars outings even to this day, focuses on the Empire as it expends numerous resources trying to hunt down rebels on board the Millennium Falcon. This forces Han Solo to take refuge with his old friend and frequent hijinks collaborator, Billy Dee Williams’ Lando, who now serves as the administrator of Cloud City.
While Solo hides from the encroaching forces of Star Wars’ antagonists, it is revealed to the audience that the Harrison Ford-played character originally swindled ownership of the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of cards.
Lando’s Treachery Led To The Iconic Carbonite Scene
Shortly thereafter, Lando sells Han Solo out to Darth Vader, who freezes the bounty hunter in a block of carbonite. Lando’s betrayal served as an integral turning point for the trilogy of films, catapulting the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. For Billy Dee Williams however, the move served as a setup for years of vicious attacks from rabid Star Wars fans around the globe, who seemed to fail to understand that Lando Calrissian is a fictional character.
Even Though He Was Redeemed, Many Fans Could Never Forgive
The Billy Dee Williams hate train didn’t even get properly rectified off-screen after his character joined forces with the rebellion in the following film to free Han, prompting an on-screen reconciliation. This incident displays a staggering amount of hypocrisy from Star Wars fans, as Han Solo himself has engaged in a host of unsavory behaviors, including famously firing first at Greedo within the Mos Eisley Cantina.
As detailed in the pages of Star Wars Insider: Icons Of The Galaxy, Williams found himself routinely confronted in public by fans shouting phrases such as “You betrayed Han Solo!”
Williams Has To Constantly Remind People That Lando Is A Fictional Character
In an effort to respond to these threats and attacks, Billy Dee Williams explained to children, nerds, and airline stewardesses alike that he was portraying a fictional character in Star Wars, bound by his obligation to protect the fictional metropolitan area of Cloud City. Williams even gave out mild Return of the Jedi spoilers to get crowds off his back, offering up excuses and explanations of Lando’s upcoming support of the rebel alliance.
Donald Glover Will Portray Lando In An Upcoming Star Wars Movie
Ultimately, Billy Dee Williams learned to accept the ire of Star Wars fans with a smile, offering insight into the trilogy that few have. These days, the character of Lando Calrissian is once again being portrayed on the big screen, though this time it’s Donald Glover in the leading role. With any luck, Glover won’t be forced to perform any villainous acts on-screen, causing the same attacks which Williams suffered for years.