With Season Three giving us more surprises and turns for Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams, Hart of Dixie, playing the character created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden) and his superhero family, Cress took time to sit down with The Beat on the set of Black Lightning.
At San Diego Comic-Con, Cress mentioned that this season would be global, he expanded on that for us, saying: “I meant global in the sense that we have a foreign power that’s trying to invade our governments and lock everything down. So, this season is so much more than corner boys dealing drugs and Tobias Whale trying to take over the city for his own power. It is global and it’s going to get even more global, and bigger and better. Hopefully, the fans will dig it.”
With this global threat that expands throughout season three, is Jefferson operating at a higher stake this season, he told us: “I wouldn’t say he’s operating at a higher stake this season, but I will say he is changing. I think he’s angrier and he has the right to be. Going from season one, where the school was successful and his daughters were safe and to now having been locked up and coming out to an occupation where no one is safe. So, you know, he’s tried to do things the right way and play by the rules and then and sees the repercussions of that, so he’s angry.”
How does this new threat and new state Freeland is in impact his changing relationship with Anissa, he shared: “He hates everything that Anissa has done. She has this incredibly fat crib and he isn’t thrilled in terms of how she came about it. While he’s partnered with her on taking down different conflicts in the city and continues to utilize her, he still is angry. Jefferson doesn’t have a ton of time to reflect on that though, as there are so many things happening at once.”
How does his relationship with Agent Odell morph as the season goes on? He told us: ”I mean, we all know Odell is a dirty dog. Jefferson always tries to do things the right way and he’s trying to honor this deal. And while he isn’t privy to a lot of information, he still thinks the deal he’s made is being honored. Of course, when he finds out it’s not, their dynamic dramatically changes and it’ll be fun.”
Even though Odell is a terrifying villainous character on the show, Bill Duke is an extraordinary actor. So, what’s it like to work with such talented Black Legends and continue pursuit of building a black heroic legacy, he shared: “I mean it’s cool because I love conversation first of all and I’m a bit of an old soul and from my work ethic to my training. So, having those guys on set is always exciting. When Robert Townsend is here, we always talk about theater and with Bill Duke, we’re always talking about the writing and then Bill goes off into politics and all sorts of things. I enjoy having them on set and getting to rap with people that I feel like I really connected with from that old school.”
While Odell continues to wreak havoc, everyone wants to know where Tobias stands in terms of a threat to Jefferson, will they ever bury the hatchet? Williams said: “Jefferson’s feelings about Tobias are still the same. He still hates him and wishes he was dead, no matter what condition or state Tobias is in. Right now, I have to deal with Odell, but Tobias and I will never be buddies and grab a coffee.”
On whether or not he thinks that Freeland will ever get back to “normal,” this season, he mentioned: “Well, Freeland’s back to normal freedom was never like this idyllic place. Freeland was and has always been flawed. There was crime there, and that’s why Jefferson put the suit back on in the first place. So, if we get back to just regular crime, that’s normal and I definitely think we will eventually get back to that. We can’t be occupied forever.”
Is there a way for Freeland to prosper? He continued: “Yeah, I think so, but maybe I’m just an optimist. I know that we have to have conflict obviously but, somewhere way down the line when we’re doing the final episode, I hope we have left Freeland better than we found it. I do think this whole occupation won’t last forever, but I also hope that in the end, we’ve cleaned up the streets. It’ll never be perfect and this isn’t Mayberry, but I do hope it ends up with some good. But you know, you don’t have a show without conflict, so it’ll take a while to get there, but it’ll be fun and messy getting there.”
So how does Jefferson and Cress both feel about the real-world conflicts being faced on Black Lightning, particularly the kids in cages? He shared: “It doesn’t always happen, but here, Jefferson and Cress feel the same way, outraged. When I read a script, I identify with the injustices. Jefferson as a family man has a lot of scenes with his daughters and his family, I tap into those scenes and think about my daughter and family. If I had superpowers, it might go left pretty quickly, so I guess there’s a reason why I don’t.”
Now that we are amid Crisis on Infinite Earths, which we unfortunately, have to wait over a month to get its conclusion, Williams shares some special tidbits about his role When discussing his new suit that was also the envy of everyone on the set of Crisis on Infinite Earths, he told us: “It’s amazing. As you can see, it’ so much more comfortable. So, I’ve been in it a lot this season, both here and in Vancouver. All of the things I have been doing it this suit, couldn’t have happened in the old one.” Speaking of Vancouver, what was his experience working with all of the other DC Superheroes, he continued: “First of all, it was awesome and just massive. The number of people and the number of superheroes was just massive, but they handled it well. I did have this out of body moment when I wasn’t acting and in between shots when I looked around and everyone was in some sort of costume. And I thought to myself this is so weird and bizarre but in a great way. Everyone was so great and they welcomed me with open arms and I had a blast!”
So, what can we expect from the after-effects of Crisis on Infinite Earths to be for the Pierce family and citizens of Freeland? Williams said: “Um, you know, it’s a new normal. I can’t say much, but I will say that in our reality, we were the heroes and all those other infamous heroes were just in comic books. So, that’s different now.”
What’s been his favorite scene so far this season? He shared: “Actually, my scene with Grant Gustin (The Flash) from Crisis has been one of my favorites so far. While shooting Crisis, Grant and I discovered that we have a lot of the same sensibilities when it comes to the work and they wrote a scene that was just a really good person to person scene. It went by really fast, but was a lot of fun.”
On wanting to join the crossover madness again, he continued: “I want to be a part of it again, but also, I want the other characters to come play with us too! Everyone mentioned that they want to come to Atlanta and I hope we have that opportunity after we step away from Crisis.”
Lastly, Lynn & Jefferson haven’t really been on the same page, and Lynn is hiding a lot of secrets, on if and when we will see that come to ahead, he quipped: “it’s going to come to a head, but I couldn’t even spoil it for you because we haven’t gotten to the resolution of it yet. But there is going to be a confrontation.”
Guess, we’ll have to wait until after the midseason break to see more of Jefferson’s role in Crisis and how it plays out, along with what changes are ahead for the Pierce family and Freeland post-Crisis. All-new episodes return in January 2020, only on the CW! And while you’re here, be sure to check out all our Black Lightning coverage at the Beat.