Cress Williams was a hit on the set of “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Over the years, the Black Lightning star has met his CW superhero brethren at various events; however traveling from Black Lightning‘s Atlanta home-base to Vancouver for production this year’s Arrowverse crossover offered his first opportunity to actually shares scenes and bond with the stars of The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. On set, they all swapped superhero war stories and tips. Surprisingly, though, Williams’ brand-new Black Lightning suit was quite the topic of conversation.
“They were pretty envious [of] my mask [and] the way it fits to my face,” Williams tells EW with a laugh. “They glue magnets around my face and there are magnets in the mask, so it’s magnetic. It allows me to peel it off in between takes. I had a moment when Elongated Man [Hartley Sawyer] saw my mask and his mouth dropped and he was like, ‘What? Dude, when they put this on my face, they glue it on, and I have to keep it on all day. They said that’s the only way it can be done.'”
But don’t worry, Williams’ appearance is more than just a flash of lightning.
In two weeks, Williams will make his Arrowverse debut in the five-night saga, appearing in The Flash (Dec. 8) and Legends of Tomorrow installments (Jan. 14). While the actor was excited about mixing up with the other superheroes, the same can’t be said of Jefferson Pierce, who joins the fight to save multiverse against his will.
“Black Lightning gets pulled into the conflict in a very surprising way,” says Williams. “He’s not prepared for it. So, he doesn’t know these people. He’s getting introduced into the world for the very first time, and so there’s some conflict early on when he’s trying to figure out, who are you people and why am I here?” He adds, “He’s kind of left off-center, which was really fun to play.”
The decision to formally integrate Black Lightning into the crossover and Arrowverse was “very late in the game,” according to crossover executive producer Marc Guggenheim. “The crossover was not originally designed around him,” he says, explaining that the 3,000 miles between the Black Lightning and Arrowverse productions presented quite an obstacle. Nevertheless, Guggenheim and Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil ignored those realities and put their heads together to figure how this could work, and in the end they did.
“Once we did that, it felt like we had elevated the crossover to another level,” says Guggenheim. “Black Lightning’s in it much more than we ever anticipated, and he’s in it in a very significant way. That’s something we worked very closely with the team at Black Lightning because the attitude among all of us, but I don’t want to speak for Black Lightning folks, was if we’re going to bring Black Lightning into the crossover, it can’t just be for a cameo. It has to be in a way that feels significant while still of course dealing with our time and space limitations.”
With that figured out, Williams flew up to Vancouver for a week and spent some quality time with the Arrowverse actors, especially The Flash‘s Grant Gustin, with whom he worked the most.
“There are some similarities with the Flash and Black Lightning, so that was really fun to play around with,” says Williams, with Guggenheim adding, “For me, the highlight is a scene with him and Grant Gustin that is so emotional, it’s so affecting, [that] it really justifies why these two characters are sharing the screen together. It’s a very spoiler-ish scene, but both Grant and Cress just knock it straight out of the park.”
“What’s most fun about having Black Lightning be part of the crossover is that Black Lightning has never interacted with our characters before, any of them,” says Guggenheim. “There’s a fun interaction between Black Lightning and Rory from Legends. Rory calls him Sparkles, which tickles me to no end.”
If Williams gets his wish, this won’t be the last time we see Black Lightning on screen with Flash, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist).
“I hope it’s not a one-off thing. [Actors] wanted to come to Freeland, and I definitely wanted to come back to them,” he says.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” kicks off with Supergirl on Sunday, Dec. 8, followed by Batwoman on Monday, Dec. 9, and The Flash on Tuesday, Dec. 10. After the winter hiatus, the crossover will resume Tuesday, Jan. 14, with Arrow at 8 p.m., and conclude with Legends of Tomorrow at 9 p.m.
For expert analysis, interviews, and scene breakdowns, watch EW’s official “Crisis” after-show, Crisis: Aftermath, hosted by Kevin Smith and airing 9 p.m., immediately after Supergirl (Dec. 8) and The Flash (Dec. 10) on The CW.
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