STARZ Original Series Black Sails: Pirates Are Not Made, They Are Born!

SDCC2013-Black Sails Pirate ship

Hello Comic-coners!

Comic-Con banner logo blue - Click to learn more at the official web site!I am back again with another fun-filled report. I had the great pleasure of interviewing some of the cast and producers of the new STARZ series Black Sails (January 2014). It was an interview I was looking forward to, because it’s about Pirates!

Now I am not talking about the kind of pirates we have seen in the last few years in the Disney movies. I am talking about full-fledged, sword wielding, treasure hunting, brawling, cursing, pirates that we have all heard about.

I am very excited about this new series, because the pirate genre (at least this version of it) has not really been explored on TV much.

 SDCC2013-Black Sails Cast

The latest incarnation of pirates that we have had in recent years are the ones in Pirates of the Caribbean or Hook on Once Upon A Time. It is a genre that has been not talked about much on TV or in films. Again I mean the REAL pirates, the ones that make you wish you never crossed paths with them.

Do not get me wrong, I do love the other incarnations of them, too, (Johnny Depp was born to play Captain Jack Sparrow). I am glad to see STARZ and Michael Bay taking a chance on a not-so-explored genre. The producers made the great point that everything you ever thought you knew about pirates will not apply. They are glad to turn the genre on its head and show what it really is about.

As I sat down with producers/writers Jonathan Steinberg and Robert Levine, it was clear they were as enthusiastic about their new adventure as I was. My first question was, well, obvious, were you always pirate fans? Captain Blood was one of the pirate movies that was mentioned a few times throughout the interview. That grand-old swash buckling Errol Flynn pirate movie was the start of it all.

Black Sails - Max portrayed by Jessica Parker Kennedy - Image courtesy Starz web siteIt is what set the bar so to speak of all the other great Pirate movies to follow. The producers made a great point as to why there aren’t more pirate movies of the caliber of Black Sails, because they are really hard to shoot.

Open ocean, huge sets, massive casts, it is an undertaking of epic proportions. The luck this great series has is Michael Bay is behind it, he certainly knows what movies of epic scale are and pulls them off masterfully.

The pirates in the series are based on real pirates, how could they not be? The real life men that the characters were modeled after lived lives that were full of drama, romance, adventure and everything in between. No writer could ever make up a story as good or even better as the lives those real pirates led.

SDCC2013-Black Sails-Jessica Parker Kennedy

Another great pirate reference was Treasure Island. It has always been a strong influence in not only pirate genre, but other genres as well. Jessica Parker Kennedy who plays Max mentioned that when she was a little girl, she had a Treasure Island treasure book that she loved playing with.

Black Sails - Black Sails - Captain Vane portrayed by Zach McGowan - Image courtesy StarzZach McGowan (Captain Charles Vane) said that the pirate in that quintessential movie Goonies was his first intro to pirates. He described the scene perfectly and you could see the glimmer in his eye as he talked about it.

Mark Ryan (Gates), one of the many Brits in the cast also mentioned Captain Blood as well. Mark Ryan definitely has a leg up on most of the other cast, he has worked with and apprenticed with the sword master himself Bob Anderson.


One cast member that I was hoping to see, but alas was not able to make it to Comic-con was Toby Stephens who plays the most feared pirate in all the West Indies, Captain Flint.

I have always been a HUGE fan of Stephens, not just because of his acting pedigree (for those that do not know his mother is Dame Maggie Smith & father is the late Sir Robert Stephens).

Black Sails - Captain Flint portrayed by Toby StephensHe will no doubt bring Flint to life in a way that we haven’t seen before. I am looking forward to seeing him on his pirate ship! He was the ONLY choice the producers wanted for the role of Flint and by the looks of the trailer the choice was perfect.

The actors were so great to talk to. Zach, Jessica and Mark were a joy and so much fun to talk to, they mirrored the enthusiasm that the producers had. Zach McGowan made a great point about how the pirates of that era did not have modern technology to help them get around, there was no GPS or Google maps to punch in a destination and travel. They used the stars and their shear wit, if a ship was in trouble or got hit by an enemy ship, there was no Coast Guard to call.

SDCC 2013-Black Sails-Mark Ryan & Jessica Parker Kennedy

It was a great point about how we take advantage of technology and that the true adventurers in life rely on the elements and their gut instinct. It is truly fascinating to know that these men maneuvered open seas in weather that is unimaginable under circumstances that would normally kill most people. They earned their names, their scars and their stripes so to speak. Zach made another great point about how most people freak out ifSDCC2013-Black Sails-Zach McGowan they leave their cell phone behind, but with these men, they left their lives behind to start a new one on the open sea. “Lived the way they wanted to and died the way they wanted to” was a great quote Zach said from the interview.

He said he was proud to be portraying the pirates the way they truly were. He had said that the real pirates would probably roll over in their graves if they saw how they were being portrayed in some movies.

I love that Mark Ryan had mentioned also as an influence Peter Pan “which would explain a lot” he said (and we laughed) as another first introduction to pirates as a youth growing up in Yorkshire. This show, as Zach had mentioned and Mark agreed, will change people’s definition of the icon of what pirates are and who they really were. “Just the idea of setting off across the Atlantic Ocean in a wooden boat, powered by the wind, managing to navigate to these as yet unknown and uncharted places, thaSDCC2013-Black Sails-Mark Ryant task alone, can you imagine if we were to try that today?” Mark’s description of what it must have been like, gives me such a picture in my head of almost being on the ship in those long forgotten days.

The actors did take away a lot from playing these characters, for the men it was a sense of understanding and respect. They walked in the pirates shoes, they got to know their characters and knew why they did what they did. It is a gift for an actor to be able to really get to the root of the character and not judge it, but embrace it for all the flaws and faults that they may have. It is what separates the good actors from the mediocre ones.

It was mentioned that this is one of the best ensemble casts you will ever see assembled in a TV show and looking at the roster, I tend to agree with Mark. It will be great to see how all these fabulous actors come together to create what will be a very unique, fun and no doubt adventurous show on cable.

It was one of the most fun interviews I had with a cast and producers of a new upcoming show in the last two years of my going to the Con. As an avid fan of sailing and someone who has a weird but curious fascination with pirates, I am looking forward to when Black Sails airs in January 2014.

I want to thank the producers and cast for giving me this great opportunity to live out a secret pirate fantasy through them, it was a great pleasure! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I had fun writing and re-living it. Don’t forget to tune into STARZ next year for the adventure of a lifetime.

SDCC2013-Black Sails promo poster

Click to visit and follow WormholeRiders News Agency on Twitter!I hope you enjoyed my Black Sails report from San Diego Comic-Con 2013 and I thank you for visiting WormholeRiders News Agency. And thanks to Kenn for video embedding and additional images for my report. I will be back soon with more on SDCC 2013!

Please feel free to leave a comment here or If you prefer, you may also click the social media icons below to share this news article or as many of our readers and visitors often do, visit the WHR on Facebook or me on Twitter by clicking the links or images avatars in this news story. See You on The Other Side“! Click to visit and follow Noz4a2 (Lori) on Twitter!

Until next time,



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