SDCC13: Starz’s ‘Black Sails’ Offers a New Kind of Pirate Drama

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The upcoming Starz original series Black Sails is Game of Thrones with pirates and that is a compliment in the highest form. With top tier actors, plenty of action and intrigue, and Michael Bay executive producing, Black Sails could very well be Starz’s answer to the HBO powerhouse.

Set in 1715 at the height of piracy in the Caribbean, the series centers on Captain Flint (Toby Stephens). Even as the most feared pirate captain in history, he is not immune to the impending threat posed by the return of the British Navy to the waters around New Providence Island.

To maintain his rule of the island, Flint allies with Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), the daughter of the wealthiest local smuggler. Antagonists come from every side not only in the form of the British Navy but also rival captains, Eleanor father, and a young member of Flint’s crew named John Silver (Luke Arnold).

Defining the show as both a “little bit historical, a little bit based on Treasure Island,” co-creator Jon Steinberg says the show definitely earns as hard-R rating. The first episode is said to include an orgy, a beheading, nudity, and plenty of bloody fighting. The production has held nothing back in creating the world of pirates. Two full-scale ships as well as a complete town were constructed for the show. The cast does the majority of their own stunts and many of the actors went through “pirate camp” where they learned everything from sword fighting to knot tying.

Even so, Black Sails is not just another swashbuckling adventure. With a smart, attentive and dedicated cast, the series oozes authenticity and realism in its action sequences and dramatic moments. “It’s not all just about longships,” said Mark Ryan, who plays Flint’s Quartermaster, Gates. “It’s a lot of serious emotional drama.” Political tensions and ambitions arise, romances form and are destroyed, and loyalties are put to test as everyone vies for the control and wealth of New Providence.

Black Sails premieres January 2014 on STARZ. Check out the official trailer below.

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