When Disney resurrected the Star Wars franchise with its sequel trilogy, they brought back just about every familiar hero from the original trilogy. Han Solo, Leia, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 have all appeared in the new films, and even deceased characters like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi (via a voice cameo) have found their way back. But one iconic (and living) Star Wars hero was conspicuously absent from the first two sequel films, and that's Lando Calrissian. Now, the character is finally returning in The Rise of Skywalker, but where has Lando been all this time?
While The Rise of Skywalker marks actor Billy Dee Williams' first on-screen appearance as Lando since fans last saw him in 1983's Return of the Jedi, a younger version of the character played by Donald Glover appeared in 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story. But since that film takes place before the events of the original trilogy, it didn't answer any of the questions fans have about what Lando was doing during the in-universe three-decade period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Thankfully, Williams has some ideas about what the original owner of the Millennium Falcon has been up to.
"I always imagined Lando being like Steve Wynn, running Las Vegas," Williams told Esquire in November. "Because he’s a gambler. But he was a bit of a showman, a bit of an entrepreneur. That's how I see Lando. I never necessarily saw him as a general running around shooting things." This is an intriguing statement, given that the previous film in the cycle — The Last Jedi — introduced a casino planet named Canto Bight. Perhaps Lando is involved in running the place, or at least frequents the planet's slot machines now and then?
As far as actual canon appearances from Lando during his big screen hiatus are concerned, there aren't many. He's had some minor appearances in a few video games, novels, and comics that take place after Return of the Jedi, but nothing terribly consequential happens involving Lando. For the most part, it seems he lived a quiet life away from the action until his services were needed in The Rise of Skywalker. But there was a time when Lando had quite a few exploits in the years that followed Return of the Jedi.
Prior to Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm, owner of the Star Wars franchise, in 2012, there existed a vast library of Star Wars content called the "Expanded Universe." After obtaining ownership, Disney declared these stories — which included hundreds of books, comics, and games — as non-canon and re-branded them as "Star Wars: Legends." As a result, the adventures Lando had in the Expanded Universe (EU) technically never happened, and Lando led quite the life in the EU. He got married, opened a mining colony, and even had a kid, all while remaining close friends with Han, Leia, and Luke.
Lando's long absence remains mostly unexplained in Star Wars canon, but regardless of where Lando has been, it's good to finally have him back.