Lando Calrissian is one of the best-known characters created by George Lucas. The fact is, he’s the first black-skinned character in the saga. He is considered a great smuggler, undoubtedly one of the best in the galaxy. Also known as a passionate gambler, he’s a cunning character with great intelligence. The proof? He was also a city administrator and war hero. Although in the saga, he was the owner of the Millennium Falcon, which later became Han Solo’s ship.
Who is Lando Calrissian? Where does it come from? What was his role?
Lando Calrissian was born on 30 BC. Real name Landonis Balthazar Calrissian III, he’s a human from the planet Socorro. We don’t know much about his childhood, except that he was a clone. This would explain why he took part in the Clone Wars. However, there is no evidence to support this version.
He first appeared in the saga’s Episode IV, Star Wars: A New Hope. At the age of 27, he was already known as a great gambler and a feared bettor.
Lando Calrissian is a charismatic but unpredictable character. That’s what’s always made it so dangerous. A skilful and particularly cunning player, he likes to take risks and play with fire. As a result, he earned a reputation as a professional gambler throughout the galaxy, moving from one great ship to another to fleece wealthy travelers, always betting big. In fact, it was this attraction to big bets that enabled him to win the astromech droid Chopper, defeating the Lasat Garazeb Orrelios. It’s also how he won the Millennium Falcon ship in a game of sabacc.
Nor does Lando Calrissian believe in the powers or existence of the Force. Caring little about which side he’s on, he’s a character who’s more interested in what he might win than anything else. Most of his actions are motivated by greed. He has, for example, acquired land in Lothal for illegal mining.
He also joined gangs and became involved in illegal activities at a very young age. He has worked with Aurra Sing and was a member, for a time, of the Aube Ecarlate organization.
His career as a smuggler
Shamelessly cunning, Lando Calrissian has acquired a very bad reputation. He is often called in for dangerous, and mostly illegal, missions. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he was hired by Kristiss to transport weapons illegally to the planet Kullgroon. The Petrusian mercenary’s aim was to save her people from the domination of the Empire. The mercenary, for his part, had accepted for money. The fact is, he owed a lot to other criminals.
The smuggler built his fortune through gambling, betting, illegal missions and, of course, swindling. By the time he was in his thirties, he’d already earned enough to live comfortably without lifting a finger for the rest of his life.
But his greed also got him into a lot of trouble. By ripping off numerous celebrities, including criminals, he made a lot of enemies. To name but a few, there was Batalla – the man who captured him on the planet Kullgroon. There were also members of the Zakku Rain Cartel.
From player to Baron administrator
Unsurprisingly, it’s by playing and winning a game of sabacc that Lando Calrissian earns the title of Baron Administrator of the City of Clouds. The smuggler had been playing with titleholder Dominic Raynor for several hours. When the latter ended up betting the city administration, Lando jumped at the chance. This was despite the fact that he didn’t have enough money to match his opponent’s bet.
Fortunately for him, Dominic Raynor was not a popular administrator among his people. To get rid of him, Lobot and other workers got together and offered him the money he needed. He wins the game and becomes the city’s new baron. At the same time, he made the cyborg his second-in-command. He was the only one who knew that Lobot, among his many hidden qualities, was also able to speak.
Key events in his life
Lando Calrissian wins the Millennium Falcon
The Millennium Falcon is a Corellian YT-1300 spaceship. It was built in Republic times by the Corellian Technical Corporation before being sold to the Coruscant-based Republic Group, who named it Stellar Envoy.
Details of its precise use have never been revealed. His brief appearance in the saga’s third installment, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, gives us some idea. That said, we know that the Stellar Envoy didn’t last long. After colliding with a large cargo ship, it suffered serious damage. Instead of repairing it, the company decided to get rid of it.
Later, a person – whose identity was not revealed – spotted him and decided to put him back on his feet. It was subsequently sold to several buyers before falling into the hands of Lando Calrissian. In the Legends universe, we learn that the smuggler wins it in 4 BC. BY, during a game of sabacc. Ironically, he will lose it in the same way.
He learns to pilot it and makes numerous improvements, transforming the freighter into an essential vessel in terms of speed and power.
The Kessel Raid
Lando Calrissian meets Han Solo for the first time on Vandor-1. He was there to retrieve his ship, which had been seized by the Empire and kept on this planet. The two smugglers get to know each other at the Lodge, during a customary game of sabacc.
Later, on 10 B.C. BY, he’ll be working with the Corellian to recover coaxium from Kessel. True to form, he agrees to join the raid on two conditions: first, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Beckett must help him recover his ship. Secondly, he will receive 20% of the profits at the end of the mission.
Losing the Millennium Falcon in the game
Lando Calrissian knew from the start that Han Solo was after his ship. From the very first meeting, the young smuggler had tried to win him over. But as a professional gambler, Lando managed to win the game by cheating, as he had already done to win the Millennium Falcon.
This blatant interest was further heightened when, after the Kessel raid, Lando found himself injured. Unable to pilot his ship, he agreed to let Solo take command. But irritated with him for the fiasco that was their operation, he decides to leave the company with his ship.
It would be several years later before their paths would cross again. And it’s around a table, during a game of sabacc, that the two smugglers meet again. Playing one against the other, Lando ends up putting the Millennium Falcon on the line again. According to the scene detailed in Solo: A Star Wars Story, he’s going to try cheating once again. But Han had already sniffed out the game during a previous game. He had managed to steal the green sylop that the player used to conceal in his sleeve. Lando Calrissian loses the game and the Millennium Falcon with it.
Becoming the Baron Administrator of the City of Clouds was one of the smuggler’s greatest sabacc victories. But that hasn’t always served him well. Just after the Battle of Hoth, Darth Vader takes over the city to blackmail him. He demands that he betray Luke Skywalker and the Resistance in exchange for Bespin’s freedom.
Lando Calrissian was obliged to accept. But in the Legends universe, many also see a desire for revenge following the loss of the Millennium Falcon. In any case, a few years after the Battle of Yavin, Lando Calrissian agreed to welcome Han Solo’s crew to the station. He offers to house Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia, and even volunteers to repair the ship, which is experiencing some technical problems. Not to mention that Darth Vader is already waiting for them at the dinner table.
Han Solo was then captured and tortured by the Sith Lord. The latter ordered that he be frozen in a block of carbonite and transported to Jabba the Hutt. All in the presence of Lando.
The uprising against the Empire
Once Han Solo is captured, Lando Calrissian realizes he’s been tricked. Darth Vader orders him to imprison Chewbacca and Princess Leia on the station. But when he points out that this was not stipulated in their agreement, the dark lord points out that he had the power to change the contract as he saw fit. Realizing that the Empire had no intention of leaving the Cloud City as planned, he revolted.
So, after checking that Han Solo was still alive, even if imprisoned in his carbonite block, he set about freeing Leia and Chewbacca. All three managed to escape from the station just in time when Bespin officially fell under the control of the Galactic Empire. After many failed attempts, he finally managed to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace by disguising himself as a bodyguard. That’s how he was able to help rescue Han Solo.
Lando Calrissian: his actor
The smuggler Lando Calrissian is played by Billy Dee Williams in :
- Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars IX: The Skywalker Ascension
He is played by actor Donald Glover in the 2018 film Solo: A Star Wars Story.