[NYCC 2014] Black Sails Interviews with Toby Stephens & Hannah NewOctober 18, 2014
This past weekend at New York Comic Con, fans of the Starz original series Black Sails had a chance to see a panel featuring their favorite scoundrels from the explosive first season of the pirate series. The series will return to television on January 24, 2015 and announced at the convention was news that the show has been renewed for a third season.
Black Sails is an ambitious and visually appealing show that showcases the more brutal side of pirate life as opposed to the almost romantic allure we received with such works as Pirates of the Caribbean. We had the chance to sit down with fellow media members, Toby Stephens (Captain Flint) and Hannah New (Elanor Guthrie) for a roundtable discussion about their characters and some exciting new things we will be seeing in the coming season.
I was surprised with your character [Flint] and the brutality of the show and it ruins the romance of this pirate life a little bit.
Toby: I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to it. There’s always that feeling of ‘oh, not another pirate thing’ but then when you read it you realize it has a very different texture to it; it’s gritty. To me it seemed more like a gnarly western than a pirate thing but you’re right, and the violence that comes out is because of the need to survive this extreme environment that we’re living in and that everything has a desperation to it.
What can you tell us about your characters coming up for the second season?
Hannah: Well Elanor is trying to hold onto what she began to establish in season one. The threat of colonial powers and the crown coming back to redress the the situation with the pirates is very imminent. She’s constantly having to think on her feet but she’s also having to be more ruthless and more Machiavellian in how she deals with people. I think she starts to see how naive she’s been in certain ways and she’s determined to make her mark and become this power that the island needs. I think she feels a lot of responsibility to make this work. There are points where you see her at her lowest and really trying to rein it back in and be this power that she always thought she was. For me it was an interesting arc that she had such a sudden fall and being able to climb back up from there – whether she makes it or not is interesting. But that’s where Elanor is at this point in time.
Toby: For Flint its more how to make Nassau feel like it’s not threatened by England anymore and that it can survive on its own. There’s also a backstory that takes us back fifteen years prior to where he’s a naval officer in London and it sort of reveals his motives for what season one audiences were wondering what is driving this man. He’s enigmatic and he challenges the audience in many ways. The second season reveals all of the reasons why he’s doing what he’s doing and why he’s the man that he is and that takes us in quite an unexpected direction. That also he finds a way to free Nassau and make it a going concern and that story interlinks the past and present.
How hard is it to strike a balance between the ruthlessness of your character, but to also be someone that the audience can sympathize with and root for?
Toby: What I liked about the dynamic of Flint is that he’s very challenging. I hope the audience in the end like him, but against their better judgement like “I like you, but I don’t know why you’re doing all of these things”. It’s something that’s quite intriguing about him and you know there’s got to be something more than just the violent man; there’s something underneath that’s driving it. That’s explained to a certain extent in the second series so that will hopefully answer a lot of people’s questions. I really enjoy the dynamic of playing someone that rubs the audience up slightly but they still like you. I feel there’s a history of those kinds of characters that play the anti-heroic part; but I think he stands on his own. Flint is his own kind of guy and stands on his own – he’s a fun character to play and I quite like him.
Hannah: I’m not sure if I’m saying this from an Elanor point of view because Flint has this vision as well that everyone can see and want to follow that but his methods of attaining that vision is not something that everyone would agree with. The brutality and whatnot. For me it’s the same in a sense that Elanor – the reason that I really like her is that as much as she has this hard outer facade, there are moments of vulnerability that everyone gets to see and there are moments where everything is falling apart and you go on that journey with her.
Hannah, what’s your take on where Elanor and Max’s relationship is going now?
Hannah: I think that for Elanor and Max, it was a relationship unlike anything they’d ever experienced before and being able to really have that love that develops from a friendship into something very deep and they’ve been an emotional support to each other. The fact that they no longer have each other as that emotional support means that they have to develop as women themselves and try to place themselves in this very masculine world as sole entities. The geography of Nassau town leaves them right next to each other; Elanor can see Max’s bedroom from the tavern and she can see everything that goes on there. I think that connection is a very difficult one; living under the auspicious eye of an ex is not very comfortable at all. They start to challenge each others authority but they also know one another so intimately and it’s painful. Whether or not their relationship is salvageable we will have to see but I think there are aspects of their relationship that they still need in a major way. That’s all I can say, unfortunately!
Black Sails premieres Saturday, January 24th on Starz. You can also visit the official Black Sails website for all kinds of information about the show, actors and episodes.