Why Billy Dee Williams Couldn't Say No to 'Dancing With the Stars'
Billy Dee Williams seems to be surprising everyone — including himself — with his current gig on "Dancing With the Stars." The Emmy-nominated TV and film legend found himself signing on to the long-running ABC celebrity ballroom competition before he even had a chance to turn it down.
Yahoo TV caught up with Williams to ask him about his decision to compete on the TV dancing competition, the daunting upcoming partner switch, and what he really thinks of those low-scoring judges.
"Well, I certainly was a fan of 'Dancing With the Stars,'" Williams told us when he was asked about his reaction when he was approached to join the demanding competition. "I was approached by my management. Before I could say no, they were so excited about the whole prospect that they wouldn't even let me really respond. ... Instead of saying no, I found myself saying, 'Well, OK, let's see what I can do with this.'"
The actor is best known for his smooth moves in movies like "Mahogany" and "Lady Sings the Blues," and for his role in the last two episodes of the "Stars Wars" trilogy as the gambler-general Lando Calrissian, but his new role on the TV dancing show has been a bit bumpy, thanks to two hip replacements, and he has seen a series of low judges' scores. Of his decision to join a show that boasts a teen pop star and a pair of Olympic ice dancers, Williams said, "It's a challenge, I have to say. A huge challenge."
Still, with fans like his (who else has cheering Ewoks in the "DWTS" audience?) and a couple of clever dance themes (he resurrected his blue Lando cape for a cha-cha and pulled off a "Peter Gunn" tango with three gorgeous female dancers), Williams survived the first week's double elimination despite judges' scores that put him and pro partner Emma Slater at the bottom of the leaderboard. And speaking of the judges, there are no hard feelings coming from this respectful actor.
Watch Williams's premiere performance:
"I think they have a standard, and I understand what that standard is," he said. "I don't know that any of us who are not professionals can meet that standard. But they are there for a reason. They have a job to do. So I'm not bothered by the fact we got low scores, particularly because I get the support of the fans."