Interview: Billy Dee Williams dishes on Star Tours, Disney D23 Expo artwork and fans

in Disney, Entertainment, Events, Merchandise, Movies

Billy Dee Williams

Actor Billy Dee Williams is most famous for playing the character of Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars film series. He is also an accomplished painter and in just a couple weeks, Williams will meet with fans at the Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., also releasing exclusive new artwork he has created for the event.

UPDATE (8/11/11): Billy Dee Williams’ artwork will not be finished in time for the D23 Expo but he will still be appearing at the event to sign autographs and meet guests.

Today I had a chance to chat in a conference call with Billy Dee Williams about his artwork, Star Tours, and a few other topics…

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the artwork you’ve created for the D23 Expo?

BILLY DEE: It’s kind of a jazz presentation. It’s Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck and Goofy and Pluto – they’re jazz musicians and I’m sort of participating. It’s fun. … Minnie’s singing in the painting. … I think it has a little bit of humor to it. It’s a jazz theme and it’s including all of the central Disney characters.

QUESTION: How did you get involved with creating the artwork for Disney?

BILLY DEE: One day I went over to the Archives to see the history of Disney, and I thought “Wouldn’t it be a nice idea if I came up with a little panting that we can make into lithos?” and that’s how it all kind of evolved.

QUESTION: Have you seen the updated version of Disney’s Star Tours ride?

BILLY DEE: No I haven’t, but hear it’s pretty spectacular.

QUESTION: The cloud city of Bespin would have made an excellent destination for the new Star Tours attraction. If Disney’s Imagineers had chosen to take passengers there, do you think Lando would have assisted Darth Vader in capturing the runaway vehicle or would he have aided in its safe passage through?

BILLY DEE: As long as Darth Vader isn’t following behind … as long as it’s not hostile, it’s quite welcome. I think Lando probably would welcome the whole situation.

QUESTION: In meeting with fans at conventions like the D23 Expo, can the appreciation be overwhelming at times?

BILLY DEE: I always enjoy it. … I’m looking forward to seeing everybody. I always look forward to the whole Disney experience.

QUESTION: Have you had any strange encounters with fans over the years?

BILLY DEE: Yeah, nothing serious. I mean it’s sometimes very peculiar but nothing that I can say has been a bad experience. It’s always been pretty good.

Billy Dee Williams will be at the D23 Expo from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Aug. 19 only, with his new limited-edition poster available to attendees of the event.

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