HARDBARNED! The Blog

A Lackluster Lack of Lando

WHERE THE HELL IS LANDO? No matter where I look, I can't find anything official that even mentions his having the slightest involvement in the new Star Wars movies. This was never part of the deal! Lando Calrissian--rogue, gambler, switcheroo artist and sketchy best pal of Han Solo--is absolutely essential for Episode VII. He truly belongs here with us among the sequels.

WHERE'S LANDO? Who will play the comic-romantic foil to thwart Han's elderly advances toward Leia on senior night at the intergalactic grocery? Without this old smoothie, what's to stop old Leia and really old Han from public PDA whenever the droids aren't looking? Who will sport a sweet 'stache like Lando? Who will wield an awesome cape like Lando? The answer is nobody.

WHERE'S LANDO? J.J. Abrams and Larry Kasdan, how could you delete Lando? I mean, how could you? Billy Dee must be crushed. All his buddies from 1983 are reuniting for what will likely be the biggest film of all time, and he is excluded, stuck doing voiceovers for a cartoon show by day and dipping into his lifetime supply of Colt 45 by night.

Voiceovers of which character, you're wondering? Who else? Lando. Mister Abrams must be doing something right if he's making Kevin Smith cry tears of joy. Or maybe Kevin was crying because he knows Lando's not in Episode VII.

Somehow I don't think Kevin would fake it. But really, J.J., I hope this is all an intentional farce--that you're a slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler--and that Lando's absence is just a trick you're playing on all of us. One quick search for "Lando Petition" reveals several already exist, begging Abrams, Lucasfilm, Disney and whoever might listen to reverse course and include our beloved General Calrissian in the next film. The one at Change.org has all of 17 signatures. I am now officially depressed.

OK Harrison, so R2 is trapped in this box...and that's all we've got so far. What do you think? Any ideas?

Okay, so I'm a little slow to react here, but I'm still as excited as the next 30-something Star Wars nerd to see the long anticipated official confirmation of the cast of Episode VII. What looks like every geek's dream--a proper sequel to Return of The Jedi--is starring MOST of the principal actors from ye olde trilogy, along with several talented newbies--and one especially oldie but goodie who is new to the saga--Max Von Sydow!

However, the first thought I had after inspecting this David James press-release photo (above) and the meager text that accompanied it was not lamenting the lack of leading ladies, a legitimate beef, subsequently addressed with the good news of the acquisition of significant additional lady talent. My first reaction was...

WHAT ABOUT LANDO? Where's Billy Dee? Not only is he absent from the photo, he's not even mentioned! Not cool. Maybe it was his bad back. I can't believe I just linked to US Weekly, but it happened. Lucasfilm-I-Mean-Disney, I demand an explanation for your lackluster lack of Lando!

Yeah, so he was only in two of the three original movies, but he became an integral part and a fan favorite. If you're bringing everybody back, including the guys in the droid and Wookie suits, Lando absolutely deserves to be there. So maybe he's the only member of the original cast to do malt liquor ads, but hey, an actor's gotta pay the bills.

I just read J.W. Rinzler's relatively recent, comprehensive making-of books about all three films in the original Star Wars trilogy, and I can't recommend them enough. As an executive editor at Lucasfilm, Rinzler had access to the archives, and these three oversize, hardback monsters are treasure troves of never-before-seen material--pre-production and production sketches, diagrams, artwork, rejected ideas, photographs, interviews (old and new)--and the inside track on what went down for the decade of collaborative creativity that birthed the epic originals.

Rinzler also worked on a similar volume about the Indiana Jones series, which is cool too but sadly includes much too much material on the fourth film.

It's pretty awesome to think that Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, 3PO and R2 are actually going to share the screen once again after more than three decades, with screenwriter Larry Kasdan back on the script, as he was for Empire and Jedi. Surely Kasdan and Abrams, having been introduced to George Lucas's outline for where the series might lead our heroes for a third and final trilogy, have collaborated on a story and dialog much better than what George subjected us to with his prequels.

I think it's clear that when Lucas allowed himself to collaborate with other talented writers and filmmakers like Kasdan, Empire director Irvin Kershner and Jedi director Richard Marquand, not to mention a platoon of amazingly talented and hungry visual artists, puppeteers, sculptors and special effects technicians, his movies got much better.

When he withdrew into his own CG world of green screens years later and decided to write, produce and direct the prequels on his own with few critical collaborators with whom to disagree and thus engage in the necessary debates among artists that inevitably improve movies, rock bands, and any and all collaborative works of art, well, we know what happened.

But I digress. WHERE THE HELL IS LANDO?

Please, J.J., Don't leave him stranded forever, dancing his smooth-dance to the Ewok victory song by the stormtrooper helmet xylophone for all of intergalactic eternity. Give us the further adventures (and witty banter) of General Smoothie himself, Lando Calrissian. If you can make Kevin Smith cry, you have my attention, and my high hopes go with you, but if you choose to delete Lando, then perhaps...just perhaps...we think we're being treated unfairly.