Donald Glover, I learned, does a dead-on Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Or at least, he did last night for a sketch on Saturday Night Live that poked at Star Wars’ earlier days when there were “lots of lizard-men wearing vests, just four black people though.”
What’s funny about the sketch (other than that opening joke) is how accurate it is: Mace Windu, Calrissian, that X-Wing pilot who got blown up in Return of the Jedi, and then Saw Gerrera in a prequel. Really, that’s your African-American lineup in Star Wars canon pre-battle of Endor. And it’s not like there were no fans of color at the time, either; Glover wore a Star Wars t-shirt in his high school yearbook photo, and told Stephen Colbert his first toy was a Lando Calrissian action figure.
I’m not saying this to harangue some point about diversity and inclusion, though there is a good one to be made; I’m saying it because it’s great fodder for a sketch, which features Glover, Keenan Thompson and Leslie Jones, plus some outstanding costume design. I’m probably gonna spend the rest of the day trying to get that lounge song unstuck from my ears, too.
Glover was on SNL to plug, of course, Solo: A Star Wars Story, which opens May 25. Glover plays — or should I say reprises his role of — Lando Calrissian, this time younger.