It’s been a very good year in 2016 for actor Donald Glover, across multiple mediums. Following his acclaimed turn in last year’s The Martian movie, Glover’s album under his rap alter ego, Childish Gambino, Because The Internet, was certified gold. His FX hip-hop drama, Atlanta, has drawn rave critical reviews and was picked up almost immediately for a second season. And last week, he won the coveted role of Lando Calrissian in the upcoming standalone Star Wars anthology film about Han Solo.
In the film from directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie), Glover will step into the shoes of Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; he’ll be appearing opposite Alden Ehrenreich, who will be playing the part made iconic by Harrison Ford. The film starts production early next year with the release date set for late spring in 2018. Most Star Wars fans seem pretty happy with the casting of Glover, and it appears the actor himself is happy to have won the role.
In an appearance on The Ellen Show Wednesday (see above), Glover expressed his gratitude over having been cast in such an iconic part. Glover told Ellen DeGeneres that he is “honored” to have taken the role, and to be part of Star Wars. The actor said he’s loved the Star Wars films ever since he was a child – referencing the viral photo of Glover wearing a Star Wars t-shirt as a high school student. He even shared that a Lando Calrissian action figure was the first toy he ever had, along with one of Darth Vader.
While lifelong affinity for Star Wars is by no means a prerequisite for involvement in the present movies, there’s something to be said for lifelong passion for the material. And that’s something Glover clearly has, whether it’s Star Wars or Spider-man — another franchise Glover publicly campaigned to participate in, and ultimately landed a role in Spider-man: Homecoming.
The question will be, can Glover and Ehrenreich recreate the chemistry, and the complicated relationship, that we saw between Han and Lando back when Ford and Williams played the parts? The previous actors, in limited screen time, conveyed a whole lot of complex and shared history. When it comes time to show us that history, are the new actors up to it? Based on what we’ve seen from them in past roles, they certainly seem up to the task.