The Marvel Life

The Marvel Life: Cress Williams

The Hart of Dixie actor talks about loving Luke Cage, how Wolverine helped him meet his wife and more!

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By Blake Garris

You may know actor Cress Williams from his eclectic television background on shows such as “Living Single,” “Prison Break,” “Nash Bridges” and currently the CW’s “Hart of Dixie.” But you may not know about his avid comic book fandom, his collections of super hero shirts and his affinity for Luke Cage as his favorite character.

We recently spoke to Cress about all this, how he met the woman he married based on a trivia question about Wolverine and much more! 

Marvel.com: I hear you’re a big Luke Cage fan.

Cress Williams

Cress Williams: I actually came to my appreciation of Luke Cage rather late because growing up, it’s so cliché, but I was a poor black child so being able to afford comic books just wasn’t really on my radar. So my introduction into super heroes and things of that nature were in cartoons and movies and all that. I had some friends that started telling me about Luke Cage some years ago, and when I started researching and looking into his storyline he’s quickly become my favorite.

I think prior to getting to know Luke Cage, I was really drawn to the X-Men more than anything else.

Marvel.com: After you started making money did you ever start buying comic books?

Cress Williams: Yeah. Now, with the wonderful world of technology I have an iPad full of comic books and the funniest thing is that sometimes I purchase them in such big numbers that the credit card company will actually stop it because they think my credit card’s been stolen [Laughs]. Because you know, with being an adult man and the tons of comic books, it’s like “No, that’s me. I purchased all those comic books.”

Marvel.com: Do you read weekly or do you read in trades?

Cress Williams: I kind of read in chunks, whenever I have a spare moment. I download a bunch so that I have them there and I’ll then just pick a particular storyline or character and then read as much as I can on that character.

Luke Cage

Right now I’ve been reading Luke Cage and I didn’t know his full story until recently. As a kid you just like anything fanciful that you’re into, but as an adult I really love that kind of place where the super hero mythos meets life where it has that human story; that’s what I think I was really drawn to when I started getting into the X-Men. And that’s what I think Marvel does really well is that the worlds they create feel like life. I love how the X-Men and their whole story resemble race relations, you know? I wish I had coined it but I heard someone years ago refer to the juxtaposition of Professor Xavier and Magneto and how it almost resembles Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. And the more I started thinking about it and breaking it down, I was like, “Wow, that’s exactly it.”

Back in the day as a kid I was really drawn to the Hulk because it just felt so human and was probably one of the first stories that I felt emotionally invested in and not just thought it was really cool. You really feel for that person and put yourself in that situation. He has these abilities that are amazing but are isolating and are the reason he’s, in a sense, so alone—that, I was really drawn to. And with Luke Cage, it’s just this great redemptive story. This guy who doesn’t start off privileged or doing good but looks around his environment and his world and realizes that a life of crime is not the way to go and has this character building experience that causes him to go the other way.

Marvel.com: What’s it like, since you grew up watching the cartoons, seeing most of these characters on the big screen now?

The X-Men

Cress Williams: It’s awesome, man. I feel like, as a kid, there weren’t any films and it was all cartoons that were always catered towards kids but I think now you have so much. You still have stuff catered towards kids but I think the films are catered towards adults and this kind of deconstructed way of doing them really taps into the human condition. I like that as an adult and I also love it as an actor, because one of the things I love about being an actor is the human condition.

Marvel.com: When I was doing research on you, I saw a picture of you out with a Captain America shirt on. You show your love out there, that’s pretty awesome.

Cress Williams: Oh yeah. I love when I get compliments on my shirts all the time. I’m a t-shirt guy and I think nine times out of 10 they have some kind of super hero character on them.

Marvel.com: What Marvel shirts do you wear the most?

Cress Williams: I have Captain America, I wear Iron Man; I have a nice Ecko X-Men shirt that I wear. I think those are the ones that are always in my steady rotation.

Marvel.com: Who would be your favorite X-Man if you had to pick one?

Cress Williams: It’s hard, because you always go on what powers do you want, you know? Wolverine is so on everybody’s mind now and I love Wolverine because he’s this kind of mercenary and he’s allowed to react in the way that I think most people would react. I also love Nightcrawler a lot, and that’s one that doesn’t get a lot of airplay or attention. I think he’s a dark horse.

Marvel.com: Do you like him for his powers or his backstory or what?

Nightcrawler

Cress Williams: I like him for his powers and I also like him just because he feels like an introvert. If you do a little bit of character analysis on him, I identify with this guy who’s kind of solitary and learned to be a team player but is not at his root. And his powers are so awesome, to just be able to teleport anywhere and everywhere.

Marvel.com: I gotta ask, one of your costars on “Heart of Dixie,” Scott Porter, is a big comic book geek. Do you guys ever argue about that stuff?

Cress Williams: Oh yeah. We never get into the arguments but we’re on set a lot so we chat about it constantly and our dream roles. I think we were just talking the other day about Luke Cage and was like, “Oh man, I’d love to be Iron Fist!” and then he thought for a second and he’s really drawn to Daredevil because he’s played lawyers so many times and actually on “Heart of Dixie” he’s a lawyer now so he’d love to be that.

Marvel.com: Does that ever happen with other actors?

Cress Williams: We have a guy that guest stars and reoccurs on our show; he’s a big comic book guy as well so we’ll chat about it. And then there [are] more people in life that I encounter. My wife, who’s an up and coming actress, that’s one of the things that drew me to her a long time ago. We were at this party playing this kind of movie trivia game and I’m standing off to the side and the question came out, “What is Wolverine’s skeleton made of?” and without even a beat, and before any dudes raised their hands, she raised her hand and was just like, “Oh, Adamantium!” and I was just like, “Woah,” and it was one of those slow motion moments where the world stops and I looked at her and thought, “Wow. I think that’s the one.” She is absolutely amazing because she’s just as excited as I am, if not more, every time a new movie comes out or we’re sitting on the couch and she’s like, “It’s [Marvel’s Agents of] S.H.I.E.L.D. night! It’s S.H.I.E.L.D. night!” We sit down and start watching, that’s pretty cool.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel.com: So you’re watching “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” now?

Cress Williams: Oh yeah. It’s on the DVR every week.

Marvel.com: What can fans expect from upcoming episodes of “Heart of Dixie”?

Cress Williams: I’m trying to figure out where they are right now. There’s lot of relationship mayhem going on and I’m not sure; they’re really tight-lipped about where we go. They don’t want to necessarily tell us where we go. I do know that I have trouble committing to a long-term relationship and that kind of destroys the relationship that I’m in at the moment. Where it goes as far as the future season, I don’t know at this point.

Marvel.com: You said you collect t-shirts. Do you collect anything else?

Cress Williams: No, I try not to. When I get into collecting things, I get a little obsessive. Which is why when I start buying comics, I buy way too many and I have to stop myself. I’m a big hat fan. I love fedoras and everything else. I have to force myself to buy one hat otherwise I’m going to walk out with five so I try to be good about it. I’ve got a really cool lightsaber, I must say. My wife too, that was another thing we geeked out on. We were at this artist retreat and they have all these different workshops you can take for like dance, painting and all that. One actual workshop was “Lightsaber Choreography” and so we both jumped into that. There were a couple of the cheap lightsabers they had for everyone to use and they had the real nice ones. And we were up in the mountains but as soon as we finished that, I was on my phone figuring out where’s the web site where can we get lightsabers. We were just so stoked like, “Oh, I want that one! And I want this one!” So now we are owners of lightsabers.

Luke Cage

Marvel.com: I have to ask you as a personal question, because I collect lightsabers too, what color do you have?

Cress Williams: I have the guardian blue and she got the teal because my wife’s favorite color is teal. We were actually going to be Jedi for Halloween and we have a friend who’s a big cosplayer but she had way too many things to do so she couldn’t get our costumes together in time.

Watch Cress on “Hart of Dixie” every Monday night at 8 PM ET on the CW and follow him on Twitter at @1loveCress

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