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'Star Wars' actor Billy Dee Williams opens up about gender fluidity

In an interview with Esquire, the 82-year-old actor appeared to come out as gender-expansive, using both male and female pronouns to describe himself.
Image: Billy Dee Williams at a event at the Anaheim Convention Center in 2019.
Billy Dee Williams at a event at the Anaheim Convention Center.The Walt Disney Company / Image Group LA via Getty Images file

Billy Dee Williams is known to "Star Wars" fans around the planet as Lando Calrissian, the intergalactic smuggler who starred alongside Harrison Ford’s Han Solo in "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back."

To others who remember television advertisements from the 1980s, Williams plays a smooth-talking man who implies, as a pretty lady primps at his elbow, that by drinking Colt 45 malt liquor beverage, you can “have a better time.”

And now, in a new interview with Esquire magazine, the 82-year-old Williams — an icon of Hollywood masculinity in his heyday — has opened up publicly about his gender fluidity.

“I never tried to be anything except myself,” Williams told Esquire. “I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

“And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” Williams, who is referred to using masculine pronouns in the Esquire article, added. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

Williams did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.

While Williams did not explicitly come out as gender fluid or gender nonbinary, the interview was applauded by LGBTQ advocates like the Human Rights Campaign, which congratulated him in a tweet for “coming out and living your truth as gender fluid.”

Williams, whose filmography includes "Batman," "Dirty Dancing" and soap operas such as "General Hospital" and "Dynasty," will return to the silver screen for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which will be released Dec. 20.

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