Cress Williams Shares What’s In Store For Season 2 Of “Black Lightning” And Why He Refuses To Wear His Costume On Halloween

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Cress Williams as Black Lightning
Cress Williams as Black Lightning

Photo Credit: JSquared Photography/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Cress Williams is living every little boy’s dream. After playing memorable roles on TV shows including “ER,” “Hart of Dixie,” “Close to Home,” “Nash Bridges” and “Friday Night Lights,” the now-48-year-old actor packed up his family (wife Kristen Torrianni, then two kids–he now has three—and two dogs) and drove cross country from longtime home Los Angeles to Atlanta, in order to shoot the role of a lifetime: Black Lightning. On the CW superhero action show/family drama, Williams plays the title character—otherwise known as Jefferson Pierce—a retired superhero who returns to the hero life, with his family in tow. As the show prepares for its second season release on October 9, we chatted with Williams about the cultural significance of “Black Lightning,” what’s in store for season two, how much he loves the suit and what superhero collaboration he’s dying to see happen.

 Photo Credit: Annette Brown/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reservedLet’s talk about “Black Lightning.” Was the show itself a dream come true in its first season? 

In a lot of ways it was a dream come true to me, and one that was a long time coming. It came right at the moment when I wasn’t sure if it was a dream that was going to be realized and then this opportunity came along. It was pretty awesome. There were a lot of ups and downs and moving my family from California to Atlanta has its own dramatic things. All in all we look at it as a blessing but it was an adjustment of course, but all in all it’s been a dream come true.

How hard was it to give up everything and move to Atlanta?

We’re making our way. Before the job came about we talked about-my wife and I—and came to peace about things that weren’t shooting in LA. The biggest thing is that we realized how ever many years down the line when the show is done filming we’re coming back to California. That’s still our home. When we realized we weren’t looking for Atlanta to replace California, that helped. It’s an adjustment. We’ve only been here for a year. When you’ve lived one place almost your entire life, one year isn’t going to change anything.

Jamie Lamor Thompson : ShutterstockPhoto Credit: Jamie Lamor Thompson/ShutterstockAre there any places in Atlanta that remind you of home?

There’s one area here in downtown Decatur that reminds me of home. When we moved here, we drove cross country. I don’t know how we did it. we drove in a Jeep Wrangler. Me, my wife, at the time two kids and two dogs (laughs). It took us five days to do it. The first placed we stopped to eat was this burger place in downtown Decatur. When we started looking around we thought, ‘Hey, this reminds us a little bit of L.A., it feels a little bit like Silver Lake. It felt hipster-y. We thought, OK, our goal is to get as close to this area as we possibly can. The closest I got to living in Silver Lake was Los Feliz in the mid-late 90s. It was still a secret in terms of being such a cool area. Before we moved out here we were in Pasadena and had been there for quite some time. We loved the whole surrounding area. Having a cool hipster-y place kind of reminds us of home.

What do you hope will come of season 2?

First of all we’re filming episode 9. We’re nearing the end of it. Just a little bit over halfway of the season and what I’m hoping is happening. Now that we’ve established the world from season 1, the ability to go deeper with the characters and the conflict is expanding and growing. Our show premieres next week and my feeling, my wish is that we premiere well and strong and that season 2 is even stronger.

From "Black Lightning" episode "The Book Of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies" (L-R): China Anne McClain as Jennifer and Cress Williams as Jefferson -
From “Black Lightning” episode “The Book Of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies” (L-R): China Anne McClain as Jennifer and Cress Williams as Jefferson

Photo Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reservedWhy do you think “Black Lightning” is important culturally?

If you go on social media or read the people (I don’t know if anyone reads the papers anymore) and there are so many shows out there that entertain and just allow people to detach. I think we need things that speak to what is really going on and maybe offer alternatives of encouragement and hope and that’s what our show does.

How exciting is it to play a superhero? Does it make you feel cooler?

I don’t know if it’s every guy’s fantasy. It’s definitely mine. I love cartoons and I still watch cartoons today, superhero cartoons in particular. Once technology really started taking off to the point where they were making films and TV shows about superheroes and what you imagine can actually be seen in two dimensions, I thought, I’ve got to do this some day. It’s been amazing. It’s also been taxing. When you’re playing a superhero you’re almost playing two different people. I separate when I’m playing Jefferson Pierce, and the days when I’m playing Black Lightning. Black Lightning is tougher to play that Jefferson Pierce and he’s got a suit that’s pretty challenging to wear. It’s pretty awesome.

From "Black Lightning" episode "Equinox: The Book of Fate"
From “Black Lightning” episode “Equinox: The Book of Fate”

Photo Credit: Mark Hill/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Will you wear the costume on Halloween?

We were talking about it on set and [China Anne McLain, who plays youngest daughter Jennifer on the series] asked me what I was going to wear for Halloween. I was like, ‘What do you do?’ She said she dresses up and hands out candy and I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ She said, ‘You have to dress up’ and I said ‘No! I don’t! I do that for a living.’ I’m not really motivated to dress up. I’m going to throw on a T-shirt and call it good. It’s weird. I think once I became a teenager dressing up lost its luster. I like doing it as a job and the make believe and everything that goes along with it, but I get my fill of it and then I don’t want to dress up in life. People are like, ‘You’ve got to wear the suit.’ I’m like ‘No, I’m not doing that. I wear it to work and it’s not comfortable at all!’

What superhero collaboration with you like to see happen for you personally and why?

Wow. OK. I mean it’s funny because the first thing that came to mind wasn’t a CW show. There’s this show called “Legion” on FX. Our show is like a superhero show combined with a family drama. “Legion” is this like a weird, psychedelic show. It’s really, really out there. I’d love to match up with them because they’re doing some next-level stuff and I think it would be pretty trippy.

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