While his character was ultimately redeemed in the original Star Wars trilogy, Billy Dee Williams says it was rough going in real life after his Lando Calrissian sold out Harrison Ford's Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
To Entertainment Weekly's Dagobah Dispatch podcast, the cinematic scoundrel says "for a lot of years" after the events of 1980's Episode V — in which Lando cut a deal with Darth Vader that landed Solo in a block of carbonite — fans weren't shy about sharing their anger.
"When I would pick my daughter up from school, the kids would run up to me and say, 'You betrayed Han Solo!'" the 86-year-old actor said. "I'd go on an airplane and the airplane stewards would say, 'You betrayed Han Solo!'"
Billy Dee continued, "So finally, I said, 'Look, think about the whole situation. You're up against a pretty formidable character in Darth Vader. And then there's, of course, Boba Fett. And these people were invading my space and I had to bargain with them.'"
Of the "pivotal, classic, dubious hero moment," he said, "the bargain at least prevented the complete demise of Han Solo and his friends."
As fans know, Lando eventually made good, helping rescue his old card-playing frenemy from Jabba the Hutt and leading the successful attack on the second Death Star in 1983's Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.
Williams later reprised his role in 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker.