Exclusive: Donald Glover On Playing Lando Calrissian In Solo: A Star Wars StoryPosted by Wilson Morales
May 18, 2018
Coming out this week from Walt Disney and Lucasfilm is Solo: A Star Wars Story, which hits theaters on May 25, 2018.
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.
Ron Howard is directing the movie, with a cast that includes Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, with Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.
For Glover, not only is he playing an iconic role previously played by Billy Dee Williams, but the film is coming out within weeks of Glover having a huge impact in the media. In the last two weeks, the Emmy Award winner just wrapped out Season 2 of his FX series Atlanta, hosted Saturday Night Live in which he aired his new music video “This Is America” afterwards; and then he was walking the red carpet at the Met Gala among a bevy of famous talent. He just got back from Cannes Film Festival where “Solo” had a screening there.
Blackfilm.com spoke exclusively with Glover on his role as Lando, the week he’s had, and the impact on winning an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.
Let’s go back to getting this role. Did you audition for it or did the producers come to you?
Donald Glover: Do you really think Disney and LucasFilm would say, “We like this guy well enough to give him the role?” Nah. I auditioned for this a bunch of times. Like six or seven times.
Once you got the role, at what point did you decide you wanted to get into character? Was it closer to production? Was it about seeing the script first or re-watching the old films?
Donald Glover: I re-watched the old movies first. Trying to understand why I liked him as a kid. I watched The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Just tried to understand his swagger I guess. People remember that Lando always been cool. Why is it? Is it because he has a debonair demeanor? He’s also wheeling and dealing, which is a relatable trait.
There aren’t that many memorable black characters from the 70s & 80s from big films. One name that comes to mind is Apollo Creed from the Rocky films and then there’s Lando. What is it that you think made Lando so iconic?
Donald Glover: I think what made Lando so iconic is that this was a big movie and it’s a sequel and people were expecting it and he comes in. He owns a city and he’s not struggling. It’s never questioned how he got all this stuff. I think most of ours stories are tied to “moving on up” and wheeling and dealing and he had such a style immediately that it wasn’t a question on how he took care of himself. Everything was high end. Han looks low end compared to him. You had never seen that before. You had never seen somebody who held themselves and it wasn’t weird.
Both Han and Lando individually and together bring in this dry humor from the old films and in this film as well. How did you work with Ron (Howard) in bringing a little bit of you and mixing it with Lando’s personality?
Donald Glover: I did whatever Ron told me to. That was pretty much it. I did whatever Ron said. If he wanted it to feel like this, or that and that was best part of this film, I would comply. I was not in the edit room. That allowed me to be just an actor in this film and I really appreciated that and it was good for me. I just trusted him. He knows how to talk to actors. He’s an actor. He’s gone through it. I just trusted myself in his hands.
When did you first meet Billy Dee Williams?
Donald Glover: Right after I found out I had it. A couple of weeks later, they said they wanted me to meet with Billy Dee. I was like, “Absolutely.” We met in Los Angeles.
How was working with Alden and the rest of the cast?
Donald Glover: Everyone’s really talented and fans of the Star Wars universe. It was easy. Alden is super talented and we had so much fun joking on set with him. We just have a good sense of humor. It’s just nice to be on the set and that nobody’s crazy or no one is sucking the fun out of places or taking it too serious or making it not too serious. Everyone keeps each other in check and when we’re tired, we lift each other up. It was just nice to have that and Alden set the tone because this is his movie.
Can you talk about being on the Millennium Falcon?
Donald Glover: It is crazy because you’re just sitting there and there’s a big IMAX screen in front of you and it’s moving because it’s on hydraulics and you’re flying through space. Just like that. It’s more than a ride. You’re really pretending. You’re not at Six Flags. It feels unreal.
We know this film will be successful. Could you see a Lando spin-off film?
Donald Glover: I know the world is definitely there. There’s definitely enough. What I like about Lando is that I don’t know much about him. That’s the beauty of it. I like that it could be anything. Surprise is the best part of storytelling.
If not, are you signed on for more films?
Donald Glover: I think so. I would love to play him again. I had so fun on this movie I know there is more to be had. I would love to explore that universe as Lando. I think there are a lot of questions that people have and it would be fun to see and pretty fun to watch.
How does it feel to have your own set of Lando action figures?
Donald Glover: It’s crazy. Giving your son a toy of you is crazy, especially a toy I had as a kid. It’s me. Having your face on a toy puts its into perspective that you represent something. No matter if you are in the movie or not, you represent something, to your son, to your family, to your people. You represent something, always. Just like the guy who works at UPS. You represent something to someone. That’s all we have as our identity. To represent something on a wide scale, I don’t think a lot of people ask for that. I take it as a huge responsibility. You just have to enjoy it while it’s here.
The last two weeks of your life must have been hectic to say the least. What was more challenging or stressful? Watching the ending of Season 2 of Atlanta, hosting SNL and spending the week preparing for it, airing the ‘This is America’ and its feedback, or thinking about what outfit to wear at the Met Gala?
Donald Glover: (Laughs) Met Gala definitely wasn’t it. I didn’t have to think about it too hard. Gucci gave me a good suit and I was straight. That was really much it. It’s hard to say goodbye to the show for the season. I was luckily preparing for SNL, so I didn’t have a moment to take it in, but it’s always hard and you put yourself personally to close the chapter. It’s nice. You feel that you can get a rest but immediately, people want more. You need to recharge and it’s a reflective time.
Do you have a idea when Season 3 will come on?
Donald Glover: It’s ready when it’s ready. I try not to think about it in those terms. If you do, then you will be chasing something that’s unattainable.
What do you want to do next?
Donald Glover: I don’t know. I never think about those questions. I think things present themselves as to where you want to go. The hard part is that there are a lot of opportunities in front of me, but the easy thing would be to say yes to all of them. That’s where people fall because they are just doing things as opposed to having a focus. Now that you have this power, and I think about what does the 12 year old me want to do?
What the Emmy Award win do for you mentally?
Donald Glover: All it is is a refection on how your peers view you. It’s a solidification of that power. It’s something that you can point to and say my peers are following me too. We’re on track together and they trust me. At the end of the day, all these things are politics, but they are like goalpost of power and I feel that when you have that great power, you have great responsibility. It’s another stamp of what I have to do.
Clip – Hans Meets Lando