"There’s a very clichéd image of pirates. This is much more gritty, real, dirty.”
"He hasn’t been delivering for the men, they’re ready to throw him off. You’re constantly searching for what drives him. What is his engine?"
Source: Entertainment weekly
“I play Captain Flint, who’s the captain of The Walrus. When we meet him in the first episode, he’s historically been the biggest earner on the island; he has the most fearsome reputation; he’s got the best crew, but he’s on a fallow period where he hasn’t been making so much money, and his crew is becoming discontent. There is a character who wants to become captain instead of him. He believes he’s better and that he could do better, and they want to get rid of Flint. At the time, these crews were democratic. You voted a captain onto the ship. The only time the captain had absolute control was during battle. So, there’s this sense that Flint, this terrifying figure, is on the edge at the beginning of the series, and the crew could get rid of him, and he’s trying to cling onto power.”
“Well, I think having a theatre background always helps, because it’s just part of my palate, as it were. But in terms of somebody who needs to—We’re on an epic canvas here. They’re not small characters. They’re real human beings, but they’re big personalities and they have to hold sway over these crews. So there is a certain theatrical element to what they are. But there’s a reverse side of that where they’re real human beings. These are real people; they’re textured. So, there’s a real theatricality to him, but at the same time he’s a very enigmatic character. We don’t really know what’s driving him, what the engine is. And that’s revealed slowly throughout the series, especially in the second series, which we’re about to film. Why he is what he is and what’s driving him.”
“Well, I think that part of the fun of doing these long-running TV shows, hopefully long-running TV shows, is you don’t know where it’s going. But the creators generally give you enough information about them to inform a coherent character that is nuanced and is real, and you have to work with that material. But like real life, we all change. Things are thrown at us; events happen that kick us into some other part of our life. Other parts of us are reflected or whatever. So, I think I’m starting off from this basis. I don’t know where he is going to go. I’m looking forward to finding out, and I’m all for changing as it goes along, and it being something that is elastic instead of stuck.”
“I think that’s part of the fun of this and what’s exciting about this series. Because we are taking something that is such a cliché written story and world and we’re creating something that is real. And it’s in a historical context that is real. So, it’s such a fascinating period. You have slavery, you have America as a colony. On the horizon, the American War of Independence is coming; the French Revolution; the Age of Enlightenment. This is all happening at the same time. Rather than just these mythological worlds where pirates exist on their own—it just so happens that they’re walking around in 18th century costumes—it’s just a totally fantastic world. Whereas this has a place in time. There’s a pragmatic sense that these guys are there to earn a living, and it’s a really a dangerous world in which they exist. It’s not glamorised. They have to think about what they’re going to do. They’re always living on the edge of survival. And they’re doing this because they have to survive. It creates a totally different world. I think the people who come to this expecting the mythologial world, what they’re going to get is so much more entertaining and so much more interesting.”
“What I loved about what Jon said the other day as well is that this really is like an office situation. These guys go to work, and they work on the ship, and they all have relationships that are totally political relationships that totally reflect a modern society and modern environments we work in, which gives it a real sort of irony and at times and a sense of lightness. They’re all kind of rubbing along together, and some of them don’t get on and some of them don’t like the other person, and it really gives you a sense that these are real people in a real situation, as opposed to some fantastical world.”
“But is there some sort of line you have to tread where on the one hand you want your character to be relatable, but on the other hand, they’re pirates!”
“It’s a fun line to walk, because when you make them personable, you go, ‘Ha, I can relate to this guy! He’s sort of like me!’ And then the next minute, you’re punching someone to death and they’re like, ‘Ahhh, I don’t know what you’re doing now!’ This is terrifying, and that’s a really fun line for us to play as actors. But also audience members: They’ll be sucked into this world and they’ll like these characters. They’ll relate to them, and then they’ll do terrible things, which makes it hard for you to root for them. You’re constantly having to adjust your point-of-view on these people, but yet we create a world in which they understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. And that gives them a conflict. That’s the great thing about these long-running shows now. We’re in the heyday of TV. We can create these very nuanced and complex stories that don’t patronise audiences, that don’t use the shorthand of film. We can really create complex and adult stories for audiences.”
Source: David Crow, danofgreeks
“I play Captain Flint who is the captain of the Walrus. When we join in, historically he has been the most successful pirate on the island. He’s brought in the most money, but he’s hit a foul patch and his crew is becoming discontented and beginning to doubt his captaincy. There’s a guy on the crew who is trying to get him kicked out because these crews are democracies. They’d all be pressed, the crews and pirate ships have all been pressed to naval ships or onto merchant ships. They were taken away from their families, they were treated appallingly, they were paid very little, it was a very hard life, so when they became pirates, they imposed this real democratic system which was terribly inefficient because every time there was a decision to be made, they all kind of had to go by show of hands. The only time the captain had absolute power was in battle. So anyway, there’s this sense at the beginning of this that Flint is this terrifying figure, but he’s on the back foot, he’s in trouble, they’re going to vote him off, and he has to survive.”
“I read ‘Treasure Island’, but it wasn’t really that much help. The only things that are really in there is that he was this terrifying figure, that the treasure on Treasure Island is his, he is dead, he went to the island with 10 crew members and came back alone, so we know this about him and that he still has this hold on these characters at the beginning of ‘Treasure Island’, they all have, you know, they’re all sort of generated from Flint’s power, but really there was a blank canvas. It was more John that really, he went back and wanted to paint something totally credible and much more complex I think than the book. This is a prequel, but there’s so much more we can do to tell this story, you know. We know we connect with it there, but there’s so much more in between that we can, and so much fun we can have. And also, you know, John was saying ‘Treasure Island’ is a kind of children’s camp fire story. We want to tell something that’s much more complex and adult.”
“I think piracy is something that has a very strong connection with people. I think piracy is a prequel to Western. You know, these guys are outside the rules of society. They are free booters, they do what they want, they live by their own rules. I think there’s something very appealing, especially in the male side, about that. And there is this feeling that they are, there’s this kind of combination of all kind of things in there like The Man With No Name, you know, walking into town. They’re bad, they’re good, we’re not quite sure if we side with them or we don’t side with them. There’s a lot of parity with that, and I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s perennial. The thing is that it hasn’t been done before in this way. You know, I think Westerns, they’ve gone back and they’ve done Westerns where they’ve gotta strip back a lot of the mythology and they’ve done this gritty kind of blend on it with piracy. And I think that’s, it’s ripe for doing it, and it just lends it so much more complexity and a real texture. That’s what it would have been like.”
“And historically, it’s been there from day 1. As soon as people started taking merchandise on the sea, there was pirates. And in fact the heyday of what we’re talking about in piracy in the Caribbean, it happened over about 6 years before the British stopped them. Because it was one of those things at first that was working in Britain’s interest. As long as they were raiding French and Spanish ships, hey, we don’t mind, you know? Go ahead. And then when they started affecting British trade to the Americas, then there was a problem and then they had to go down there and stomp on them. And so what we’re really talking about is a five year period where it really, you know, these people flourished and it ended and we know that it ended, and that’s a great start for a piece as well because there is a finite, we know that Flint dies, but I mean, how does he get there and what happens? So it’s a tragedy as well as a…”
“It is a cliffhanger, but it could, you could look at it, it has a sort of, it has some sort of, well, it is a cliffhanger. But it’s satisfying in itself. I want to watch comes next! I want to know how they get out of it.”
Source: NYCC - Black Sails Roundtable Interview #2 Review by Randall Unger
"It was one of the most horrible feelings, knowing that you can’t propel yourself back up to the surface and you’re relying on some guy to come in with air. But when you see the shot, you know it was worth it, but it was tough."
"The battle sequences were very long days, of not just doing the physical stunts but rehearsing it over and over again until they were happy to blow the shit out of the ship. It cost a lot of money, and it had to go right."
Source: Hollywood Reporter
“Really, my root was the script. I read Treasure Island for some clues. But Jonathan’s was an incredibly well-defined character. What I wanted to avoid was posturing as ‘scary.’ I wanted him to be real.”
“The stakes keep getting higher and higher and higher. And that’s one of the great things. As the series progresses the audience is just going to go, how is he going to get out of this?”
♚ Captain James Flint, of the Walrus