Rian Johnson has confirmed Lando Calrissian will not appear in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'.

The smuggler - who was played by Billy Dee Williams - first appeared in 'Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back as a close friend to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and fans speculated he would return in the eighth installment following the death of his friend.

However, filmmaker Johnson has revealed he would have loved to see the character return but it was ''never really something that came up''.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Johnson said: ''No, and I don't want fans to get their hopes up. 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.''

Although being ruled out to return, Williams, now 80, often appears at conventions and his manager Brad Kramer also revealed he was hoping to return to the popular sci-fi franchise.

Kramer said: ''Billy respects the studio and all involved in the decision but would be happy to be in any future 'Star Wars' films if asked.''

Despite Williams not returning, the character will be re-imagined by Donald Glover in the upcoming Han Solo spin-off prequel, 'Solo: A Star Wars Story', alongside Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo.

'The Last Jedi' is set to feature other returning stars including Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa.

Other cast include Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Andy Serkis (Snoke) and Domhnall Gleeson (General Lux) who are all reprising their roles from the 2015 'The Force Awakens'.

'The Last Jedi' is slated to be released this December.