We sit down with BLACK LIGHTNING star Cress Williams to talk about his role as the title character and the show itself.
Cress Williams will be heading the next superhero series for The CW, but Black Lightning is especially unique in that the main protagonist, along with his family, is a person of color.
When asked about what it feels like to be the first black superhero, he said “it’s an extreme honor.”
As far as who Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning, is, Williams compared him to two famous historical figures. “Jefferson Pierce is like Martin Luther King, Jr. And with Black Lightning, you get Malcolm X. And he’s a family man. Family is first. I think, even as Black Lightning, he truly believes in education is the way for change. But the reality is that sometimes you need a little muscle.”
As far as how the show separates itself from the other superhero shows, one thing he noted is that Black Lightning is “based in a real city. And we’re kinda based in real-life things. So, ultimately, he actually hung up the suit for his family. To keep his family together. And it’s kind of ironic nine years later, he winds up putting the suit back on for his family.”
Essentially, the show is more a family drama than a superhero action show, but that’s the intent and that’s what the goal ultimately is. In the beginning of the series, no one in his family knows about Jefferson’s alternate identity, so we’ll get to see how those interactions play out and how his daughters fall into the superhero movement, so to speak.
Being in the Berlanti-verse is certainly something that Williams expressed joy in, stating that “when you’re going to do a superhero show, this is [where] you want to be a part of. It’s the best of both worlds. To be with Berlanti and then to be with the Akils is the best of both worlds.”
On a practical level, the training regimen that Williams has done for the show is nothing new for him. “It’s been an increase of what I normally do. I would normally work out 5 days a week, probably a couple of hours a day. And now I work out about 6 days a week, probably about three hours a day. And then in addition, working in as much fight training as I can.”
Williams did say there’s a possibility of a crossover with other Berlanti/superhero shows, however, that is not a priority for the first season. “Our main focus, at least initially, is to develop our characters. Get the audience familiar with our characters. We have a really good show, we have myself that audiences aren’t really familiar with, and then you have the daughters who are going to have their own powers, and the audiences aren’t familiar with them yet. So, we really want to everybody into those characters, and then something like that can happen down the line.”
Black Lightning will premiere in 2018 on the CW.