Ever since Black Lightning premiered in January 2018, fans have been wondering if we’ll ever see him team up with the heroes of the Arrowverse. Now after months of rumors, it’s been confirmed that the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover will feature Black Lightning alongside all of our favorite DCTV characters. But “Crisis” isn’t the only thing on Jefferson Pierce’s radar right now. In Black Lightning’s third season, the nefarious Agent Odell has drafted the entire Pierce family into a war against the Markovians.
We had a chance to catch up with Cress Williams recently, and he gave us the scoop on how he learned Black Lightning would be participating in the upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, what it’s like living in a Markovian warzone, and the current status of his relationship with Lynn. Here’s what he had to say!
What was your reaction to finding out you would be in the “Crisis” crossover? Were you shocked?
I was very excited. I wasn't shocked necessarily, because fans have been asking about it and wanting it since before we ever became a show. As soon as they said we're doing Black Lightning they were like, “Oh, is there going to be a crossover?” It's been a big thing. Then at San Diego Comic-Con this year, the talk about it—not just from fans, but the talk from the other shows and the people from Flash and everything—it was just getting so big that by the time I came back to Atlanta and started filming, they finally told me.
I was like, “Yeah I'm not surprised. I figured. Actually, it would be a surprise if it didn't happen this year.” So, it was kind of the other way around.
How hard was it to keep the secret?
It was interesting. I guess I leaked it in some weird way.
You confirmed it by retweeting an article.
Our producer and the creator of our show called me earlier in the week and told me, “So this is happening, and don't say anything. They're going to announce it.”
I feel like he said they would announce it in a couple of days, and that was maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday. Then the weekend came and I saw this article, and so I just assumed that they announced it and that the article was official, and I tweeted it out immediately. Probably within 15 minutes I got a phone call and they're like, “Well, who told you to do that?” And I said “Well, it was an article.” And they said, “Maybe you should take it down.”
So, I started to take it down and then like two minutes later I got another phone call. “Uh no, instead on second thought, don't take it down.” I said, “I already took it down, so I'll put it back up again.”
It's interesting trying to keep secrets.
Jefferson currently has his hands full with everything happening in Freeland. What would you say the theme of this season is?
The conflict in our show has risen to a war-like level and it's really tearing our entire city apart. It's kind of like life in a warzone. I think it's probably the theme of the show this year, more so than ever.
Last season, Jefferson Pierce lost his position as principal of Garfield High and was replaced by Mike Lowry. Is Mike accepting guidance from Jeff this year?
No, not at all! He's still a jerk—the character, not the actor. The actor is a really great guy. The things that are going on around Freeland are also obviously affecting Garfield, and actually, they're affecting him as well. It really kind of solidifies the whole community as all being victimized in this season. It's pretty powerful.
How do you feel about Jefferson’s place as an educator and a positive male role model on television?
I'm so honored. It's an honor to play him, but it's also so needed because he's such a good representation of a father. He's also a good representation of how to be a member of a community. You can't isolate yourself. You have to be an active member and pitch in wherever you can. And in this day and age, it's sorely needed.
Fans really reacted to Jefferson taking time out to mentor Malik during season one. Will we be seeing more examples of Jefferson mentoring in the community?
I think so. I can't say for sure, but I think so...I hope so. The conflict that's going on is so huge, but I hope that gets squeezed in because scenes like that are my favorites as well.
When the series began, Jefferson and Lynn appeared to be divorced, but trying to reconcile. How would you define their current relationship?
That's something, I'm going to be perfectly honest, that I was even confused by...
Are they still living in separate houses?
No, we're not. Not at all. I think in season one, the audience might've got confused, and I was even confused. I'd made a choice. I knew that they weren't together in season one, but I knew that Jefferson wanted them to be together. So, I had always made the point of continuing to wear the wedding ring. But then because of people cavalierly talking saying they were divorced, I thought, “Oh maybe they're divorced.”
Then suddenly we were all back together again! I realized, and the writers helped me realize, that no, they were never divorced. They separated, they were on the road to divorce, but they were actually still married. So, they're still married and you could see in season two they were under the same roof.
How do you compare the threat of the Markovians to Tobias Whale?
I think it's more! Tobias, as mean as he is, he's not a nation. Markovia is a nation and it's a government program. It's basically, in all intents and purposes, an invasion. It's just a conflict in a much larger scale than what we've had in previous seasons.
Which of your costars would you say you have a close relationship with?
Just about most of them. I love working with James . We have that kind of father/son dynamic, and he's just such a great human being. Off camera, we talk about so many different subjects. I love working with Damon , and he's a theater guy, so we talk about theater. Christine and I, we talk about family. I think those dynamics are fun both on-screen and off-screen.
Black Lighting airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW. Visit our Black Lighting page for more features, news and articles about the Pierce family.