After wrapping up its first season earlier this year the cast and crew of Black Sails attended New York Comic-Con earlier this month, and we were lucky enough to chat with two of its stars – Jessica Parker Kennedy and Zach McGowan. In the interview we asked them about meeting the show’s fans, funny moments on set, and what we can look forward to in season 2.
Jessica Parker Kennedy: It was so amazing! I am a huge fan of New York and they ask us great questions and they’re so excited to meet us and we’re excited to meet them.
Zach McGowan: It was really fantastic. It’s the first time that the cast and the creators were doing any kind of event for the fans since the show has aired, which is a great and very different experience to doing PR before a show has aired when you’re trying to get people to watch it. So it was great to actually just see people’s reaction to the show, and hear up close and personal in a very concentrated way what the people who are excited about the show who came to New York were thinking. It was cool and it was a first for all of us who went over there including myself.
Did you have any crazy fan encounters while you were over there?
ZM: Loads! We did an autograph line for two or three hours and the line never let up which was an interesting experience. My hair in the show always comes up, so I’ve had no shortage of comments on that. It’s clear that New York is definitely a pirate town.
[Laughs] Speaking as a bald guy, let me just say that you make me want to have hair. Your hair is glorious.
ZM: Well every time I think of a bald guy I just think of how easy they have it. I’m like “man, that man hasn’t had to buy conditioner, he doesn’t need a comb”…
[Laughs] This is what I tell people all the time!
ZM: I used to be a bald guy in the sense that I used to shave my head for years, I had a buzz cut. And this kind of came directly off the buzz cut. While I love it, for me it’s a lot like guys who have to wear a suit to work; this is kind of my suit right now to work. While it’s great for other people, it’s a lot of work for me and if I don’t comb it and stuff like that I’ll get dreadlocks. That happens every once in a while, and that’s actually good for the show.
In the show, there’s a rivalry between Captain Flint and your character, Captain Vane, both of whom are jockeying to be the alpha male. When you’re on set, who is the alpha male?
ZM: Sometimes art does imitate real life. Fortunately this is not one of those cases, for anyone on the cast. There’s a delightful lack of ego amongst the cast. We all lived together for about six or seven months a year down in Cape Town so I think if there was any kind of bravado going on it would really start to suck. Luckily everyone’s pretty cool and I think everyone is just excited that the writers and producers are doing such a good job of weaving that aspect of the story in such a way that it’s never quite clear who’s going to come out ahead, just like life. And in reality Toby [Stephens, who plays Captain Flint] is a really fantastic guy. He and I both have families and young children that go out there so our kids are friends and stuff like that, so it’s just really cute actually.
Sounds like a really cool set and I’m sure there are many funny moments. Any particularly funny moment that stands out for you?
JPK: Hannah and I had to do this romantic scene; after Vane is punched in the face I tell her that she should have nothing to do with him and she should spend her time with me. We were kissing on the bed and it was the first time we had done a sexual scene together. We were quite nervous but we were doing the best we could and then all of a sudden in the middle of the scene our bed just broke. It was good because it really just broke the ice between us and everyone was laughing!
ZM: There is no shortage of funny moments on set! And most of them come in really intense moments. You’re doing something really intense and something happens and one of the people in the scene is trying really hard not to break and then all of a sudden even though it’s not a funny scene we’re all basically laughing in this extremely intense moment. Also Black Sails is a period show but every once in a while, something will get in the shot. When you watch that back on playback it’s pretty funny. You’re in the 1700’s and a guy walks by in a walkie-talkie eating a sandwich in a bright yellow rainjacket…[laughs] The funniest though is when you end up in fight sequences. You end up rolling around on the ground in a very funny position with one of the other actors. People always say how awkward sex scenes must be, but in reality the fight scenes end up being a lot more awkward.
Speaking of the fight scenes, I know you get to do a lot of them yourself. Is there any criteria a stunt would have for you to say you’re not going to do that or are you pretty game for everything?
ZM: Anything physical that any person ever asks you to do, the only person who’s really qualified to say whether or not you can actually do that is yourself, in the sense that you should never do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing in life and in general. That’s the gauge that I’ve used and so far they haven’t asked me to do anything I’m unable to do. I played a lot of contact sports growing up from hockey to football and I was the youngest of three brothers so I’ve had my share of physicality in life and I’ve studied martial arts and boxing for years. So when I had an opportunity to do this it just came naturally for me and during the stunt assessment early on it became clear I’d be able to do anything they needed me to.
Jessica – Your character has a French accent in the show. Was that challenging to learn at all?
JPK: I grew up in Canada speaking English and French, so the fact that I knew French already made it a lot easier. The challenge was really making the accent more Perisian as opposed to French-Canadian because they’re dramatically different. I had an amazing dialect coach who helped me a lot.
How would you say your characters’ arcs in season 2 differ from season 1?
ZM: In season 1 you met Charles Vane and he was at the top of his game, a rising star. In episode 2 Jack Rackham lost their entire savings and in episode 3 he gets his ship taken away and his crew taken away from him. So they really kicked Charles Vane in the nuts right there [laughs]. So you watched him claw back all season, and for season 2 you can expect to see more of him attempting to get back his life. He does have the fort but living in the fort does not a pirate make. A pirate goes out and pillages. Also Eleanor and Vane have a lot to figure out. Last we saw them she basically said she would put up with him but that when she had a chance she was going to push him into the sea. So there’s a lot to look forward to and I had a lot of fun shooting it.
JPK: There’s so much more action and the stakes are really a lot higher. It’s a lot more self-discovery for the characters; they’re figuring out who they can and can’t trust so it’s very tense. Eleanor has some immense decisions to make now she’s on the rise. I also get to spend a lot more time with Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham which was a lot of fun, so I can’t wait for audiences to see it!
Season 1 of Black Sails is available to own on DVD now. Season 2 will debut in 2015.