"How did I find Lando again? Lando never left me!" Billy Dee Williams said


Star Wars‘ most notorious playboy is back!

Billy Dee Williams surprised fans when he took the stage at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Friday while giving a first look at the return of his iconic character Lando Calrissian — 36 years after he last appeared on the screen in 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Williams, 82, embraced the cheers and applause he received as he waved to fans and spoke about his role in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

“How did I find Lando again? Lando never left me!” Williams said when asked what it was like to return to his character.

The star also joked about his character being seen as a traitor to Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo, telling the crowd, “I have to explain this stuff to people I don’t know why. I get sick and tired of being accused of betraying Han Solo.”

Williams added, “All of a sudden it’s like I’m talking about me, not Lando Calrissian. But he was up against Darth Vader he had to figure out something. Besides, did anybody die? I had to figure out a way to prevent the complete demise of my friend and all of his friends.”

Lando began trending on Twitter shortly after Williams’ appearance onstage. Fans of the franchise celebrated the actor’s return and apparent reunion with the Millennium Falcon, with one user tweeting, “LANDO. FLYING. THE. FALCON.”

Another user wrote, “Lando back in the Falcon baby!! #TheRiseofSkywalker.”

A younger version of Lando returned to the screen in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, and was portrayed by Donald Glover.

Glover, 35, told PEOPLE in May 2018 he met with Williams shortly after signing onto the film and received some advice from the Star Wars veteran.

He’s like, ‘Just be charming,’ ” Glover said. “I took what he said… and amped it up.”

Williams is one of the last original actors to return to the franchise after Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprised their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, respectively, in the first two films of the new trilogy.

While Fisher died in December 2016, director J.J. Abrams revealed at her character is still alive for The Rise of Skywalker and that previously unused footage of her from The Force Awakens will be used.

RELATED: Donald Glover Reveals the Advice He Got from Billy Dee Williams to Play Lando in Solo

“As I’ve said, we couldn’t,” Abrams said of filling the void. “We all talked about how to move on. She was the best, she was glorious, she was amazing. We all just loved her. It was impossible, there was no way. You don’t recast that part, and you don’t have her disappear. Using CGI was out of the question.”

Abrams continued, “There was actually a way to use those scenes to continue her story. And the crazy thing is, every day it hits me that she’s not here, but it’s so surreal because we’re working with her in scenes. She is alive in these scenes, and in some with Billie [Lourd], her daughter. Princess Leia lives in this film in a way that is mind-blowing to me.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker flies into theaters on Dec. 20.