Billy Dee Williams says his gender identity comments were misunderstood

“What the hell is gender fluid?” The "Star Wars" actor clarified previous comments that were misconstrued as his identifying as both male and female.
Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams.Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP
By Tim Fitzsimons

“Star Wars” actor Billy Dee Williams walked back comments he made to Esquire magazine that were construed by a number of media outlets, LGBTQ advocacy groups and fans as an expression of his gender fluidity.

“What the hell is gender fluid? That’s a whole new term," Williams, 82, said in an interview published Wednesday in The Undefeated.

The Morning Rundown

Get a head start on the morning's top stories.

A week before his interview with The Undefeated, Esquire ran an article in which the actor said, “I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

Williams then added, “And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine."

Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, tweeted congratulations at Williams for “coming out and living your truth as gender fluid."

Williams told The Undefeated that he was referring to “men getting in touch with their softer side of themselves,” and pointed to the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who theorized in the early 20th century that both men and women have “anima and animus,” which are masculine and feminine consciousness and subconsciousness.

“So, that’s what I was referring to. I was talking about men getting in touch with the female side of themselves. I wasn’t talking about sex, I wasn’t talking about being gay or straight. People should read [Jung]. I mean, it would be an interesting education for a lot of people,” he told The Undefeated, further clarifying that “he identifies as a man” and that he is “not gay.”

Williams did not respond to NBC News’ requests for comment. Williams’ next film, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” premieres Dec. 20.

Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram