Anthony Breznican
November 21, 2017 AT 09:00 AM EST

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Despite fan hopes, one character introduced in The Empire Strikes Back won’t appear in the new Star Wars sequel.

Lando Calrissian is not making an appearance.

“No, and I don’t want fans to get their hopes up,” writer-director Rian Johnson tells EW. “He’s not in the film and it was never really something that came up. I mean, I loved that character. It would have been fun to see him, but it’s just not something that ever really had a place in the story.”

The new trilogy of Star Wars movies often include echoes of the original, so many were holding out hope that Billy Dee Williams might appear in a sly cameo. The Last Jedi will feature a battle against gigantic walkers on a salt flat instead of a snowy tundra, Rey will seek guidance from Luke as he once did with Yoda, and characters will visit the casino city of Canto Bight instead of Bespin’s ritzy Cloud City.

A high-stakes casino seems like just the place an older Lando might be spending his time these days, but unfortunately, it’s not going to happen.

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Disney; Lucas Films LTD.

Williams, now 80, is still going strong and is a frequent presence at conventions. His manager, Brad Kramer, said he was hoping to return, too. “Billy respects the studio and all involved in the decision but would be happy to be in any future Star Wars film if asked,” Kramer told EW.

In recent years, Williams has provided the voice of Calrissian for the animated Star Wars: Rebels series. And he often turned up as the character on the subversive stop-motion comedy series Robot Chicken.

Lucasfilm

In next year’s standalone film Solo: A Star Wars Story, Atlanta star Donald Glover will be playing the young version of Lando opposite Aldren Ehrenreich’s Han. Both younger actors met with the men who originated the roles, and Williams has given Glover his blessing to take the smooth galactic operator in his own direction.

We don’t yet know whether Williams and Harrison Ford may make cameos in that film, perhaps as a framing device, but if not there is still a chance to bring Lando back into the new trilogy.

J.J. Abrams could still find a place for him in 2019’s Episode IX.

If the filmmaker plays his Sabacc cards right.

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