On a recent set visit to Black Lightning, BGN had the pleasure of speaking with Marvin “Krondon” Jones III who plays Tobias Whale, supervillain and archenemy to Black Lightning. Jones candidly talked about why he has such great compassion for his character Tobias Whale, on how he prepared to play such a treacherous person, as well as why examining a character like Tobias Whale will only help us all to better self-evaluate. Of all the themes mentioned throughout the conversation, it was evident that in the eyes of Marvin Jones III — that honesty about our own shortcomings, helps us to practice having more empathy towards those who are considered heinous or labeled as the wretched of the Earth.
Transparency About Flaws Within Us All Leads to Compassion for Tobias Whale
From the onslaught, it is clear that Marvin “Krondon” Jones III is protective of Tobias Whale, and that speaks volumes about him as a person as well as an actor. “One thing with the character Tobias Whale that is a truth, is that there is a little bit of him inside of all of us, whether we admit it or not. Whether we give in to it, or not. All of us. Man, woman, black, white, no matter what we are. We have that error in us. We have that need to lash out. We have that need to manipulate for whatever it is that we want. We might suppress it. We might put it on the back burner, but it’s the truth. And because of our pain and our past, some may try and justify it…but that’s what I think makes him relatable.”
Jones says of his character that we all want to survive, succeed and win. In the case of his character, it’s just that Tobias Whale has a “by any means necessary’’ mentality and quite possibly, rightfully so. There’s still so much to learn about Tobias Whale and we will see more of his character in Season 2, but Jones asserts that Whale is extremely intelligent and cerebral and that not much happens unless Whale allows it to happen.
On Preparing to Play a Treacherous Supervillain
When asked about how he prepared for Tobias Whale, Jones replied, “I tell people all the time. All I do is study scripts and scripture. And that alone, along with being honest with self, helps you to prepare for a character.” Knowledge of self, acceptance of flaws, and being aware of the range of emotions that we all operate in over the course of the day, were all topics that Jones touched upon within the conversation. “I take my time with myself, and I try to be as honest, and bring to the character unadulterated authenticity. Even at my own expense. If I have to go into my spirit to a place that is dark or is somewhere that I may have made it a duty to suppress…with Tobias, I may let it run freely a little bit.” Due to Jones’ understanding that we all have a story to tell coupled with his acknowledgment that everyone has issues whether they’re buried or not; gives him a strong yearning to create a love of and justification for Tobias.
There’s A Little Bit of ‘Tobias Whale’ In All of Us
Jones speaks that in order to fully understand humanity we must not be afraid to examine the characteristics of Tobias Whale that are suppressed within each of us. He asserts that it is okay to embrace the things about humanity that are not necessarily beautiful. While it may not be something that society wants to admit, there are really young boys growing up in environments that are grooming them to operate like Tobias Whales as they navigate in the world. Hard experiences, pain, trauma, and environment all shape perception, and Tobias Whale provides an opportunity to see into the mind of a maniacal, shrewd, and complex human being.
On How Marvin “Krondon” Jones Differs From Tobias Whale
Marvin Jones III makes it clear that he and Tobias Whale only have two things in common. The fact that they are both African-American and that they both have albinism. “I’m aware of choice, circumstance, and consequences. The only thing that we have in common is the fact that I am a black man, and have albinism. That alone gives me enough to understand who he is. But me personally, I’m just not made that way.” Tobias is above the law. “He doesn’t really adhere to any authority at all.” Jones states that while he admires Tobias Whale’s cerebral nature, that he would personally handle situations differently in comparison to his character. He personally does not judge Tobias’ experiences, thinking or motives, and believes that it is our own unique experiences that make us who we are.
Black Lightning airs weekly at 9 PM on the CW Network.
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Lynnette Nicholas is a NYC based writer, freelance journalist and voice actress. She writes about: women, black women, parenting, faith and pop culture. You can find her on Twitter posting inspirational content for women and young girls (@truelylynnette), or Instagramming (@lynnettenicholas).