The CW’s Black Lightning promises plenty of superhero action on the new series, and star Cress Williams says learning that was perhaps the most challenging aspect of the role. Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning has a full plate, he’s a father, a husband, and a high school principal, and on top of all that he’s bringing his heroic alter ego out of retirement after nearly 10 years of just being a regular man. But putting himself back into the mix means tussling with villains on a regular basis, and that means throwing punches as often as he does lightning bolts, which presents a new kind of challenge for the actor.
Williams is best known for roles on shows like Heart of Dixie, Code Black, Friday Night Lights, and Prison Break. As such, the lead part in Black Lightning presents a chance for the actor to explore a more physically demanding part. That meant becoming proficient in martial arts, which he says he’s still in the process of learning.
The actor said as much during the recent DC in D.C. 2018 event, where he discussed the many facets of his role as Pierce and the electric superhero. As far as Williams is concerned, the role of father, husband, and principal came relatively easy to him. Williams said:
“I went into this wanting to play a superhero… you kind of think what are the two-dimensional aspects of the superhero -- the fighting the crime, the looking badass and all that -- so I was excited about that. But what actually came easier was all the human aspects of it: being a father, being a principal, being a husband; all of that comes really easy. It's the physical aspect of being Black Lightning that is probably the challenge, and a challenge because it's new to me. Just kind of the fighting style. I know boxing but learning martial arts and that aspect, which I'm still in the process of, is a new thing. So that anytime you have a new task that's the challenge, and then the ultimate challenge is juggling all of it. There's always scenes to be done and then there's fight choreography to learn and I have to find time to workout on my own. I have a real family where I have to be dad and husband and all that, so it's like trying to do all of that is probably the challenge.”
From the look of things, Williams has taken to the physical aspect of being Black Lightning. The CW’s marketing for the show hasn’t shied away from showing the hero throw some electrified punches at his adversaries. The action and fight choreography look good, and the hand-to-hand combat is likely a lot easier on the budget than seeing the hero throw giant arcs of lightning across the room.
At any rate, it seems Williams is more than prepared for the role, and with the series premiering tomorrow, it won’t be long until viewers everywhere see Black Lightning in action.
Black Lightning premieres Tuesday, January 16 @9pm on The CW.