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Billy Dee Williams Says He Never Dated Diana Ross — 'But I Loved Kissing Her On-Screen' (Exclusive)

In the latest issue of PEOPLE, Williams recalls working on 'Lady Sings the Blues' with Ross — and the jealousy they inspired in her then-boyfriend, Berry Gordy

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage; Nicholas Hunt/Getty</p> Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross

Samir Hussein/WireImage; Nicholas Hunt/Getty

Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross

When it comes to his onscreen paramour Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams isn’t afraid to kiss and tell.

Ahead of the Feb. 13 release of his upcoming memoir, What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life, Williams, 86, reflected on his (strictly on-screen!) relationship with the music icon for this week’s PEOPLE issue.

In her big-screen debut, 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues, Ross, 79, portrayed legendary singer Billie Holiday, while Williams played her third husband Louis McKay. And, according to Williams, their romance scenes were made awkward by Ross’s real-life relationship with one of its producers, Berry Gordy.

When asked how he and Gordy navigated the situation Williams tells PEOPLE, “Well, Berry is…I love Berry.”

Related: ‘Star Wars’ Actor Billy Dee Williams Reveals Cover of 'Riveting, Inspiring' New Memoir (Exclusive)

<p>Paramount Pictures/Getty</p> Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross in 'Lady Sings The Blues'

Paramount Pictures/Getty

Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross in 'Lady Sings The Blues'

The founder of Motown Records — who signed Ross’s legendary girl group, The Supremes — would often intervene to prevent the stars from kissing during rehearsals, Williams recalls in his book.

“He's very whimsical,” Williams tells PEOPLE, of Gordy. “And he might object to something, but he does it in such a fashion you find himself chuckling about it because he's chuckling about it.”

To demonstrate, the Star Wars actor recalled a moment on set when he chimed in while Gordy and a cinematographer discussed a scene. The producer turned to him, leaned in and said, “This is my movie. No worries. It's nice that you have an opinion. It's okay. I got this.”

Related: Billy Dee Williams Recalls How Upset Star Wars Fans Would Tell Him 'You Betrayed Han Solo'

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection</p> Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross in 'Mahogany'

Courtesy Everett Collection

Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross in 'Mahogany'

“Even when he hired me for Louis McKay, I mean, he saw the chemistry between myself and Diana when I was doing a screen test,” Williams recalls. “And he got so excited.”

“He's just like a little kid,” he adds.

Recalling Gordy’s reaction to his and Ross’s screen test — which immediately landed him the 1972 role — Williams says, “It was very clear to him what was going on between me and Diana.”

"And he's really good at that kind of stuff, judging by all of the people he has discovered,” the actor adds.

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And while his and Ross’s chemistry — which they reprised in 1975’s Mahogany — was electric, Williams says that he and the “I'm Coming Out” singer’s relationship never translated into real life.

“We never had anything,” he tells PEOPLE. “We never had any, although I love kissing on-screen. It was really nice.”

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Read the original article on People.