On the fourth and final season of the Starz drama series Black Sails, Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) has helped Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) transform Nassau into an impenetrable fortress while Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) amasses a fleet of unprecedented strength, in the hopes of striking the final blow against civilization. But the closer they come to defeat, the more they fight back, setting Flint, John Silver (Luke Arnold) and their allies up for inevitable defeat.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Toby Stephens (who has given a tremendous and emotionally nuanced performance as Captain Flint) talked about how everybody put everything on the line when it came to making Black Sails, what he’ll miss most about the experience, just how dark and tragic things are going to get, the grueling and extensive action sequences, and why he didn’t take anything from the set. He also talked about already signing on to make the Netflix revival of Lost in Space, playing a complex character in a more modern reworking, and how it’s equally as epic, but in a different way. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: I’m simultaneously very bummed to be talking to you about the final season of Black Sails and very excited about how amazing this season looks!
TOBY STEPHENS: Good, I’m glad you’re excited!
This show has undoubtedly pushed the limits of what a TV show can do, and it’s been a massive undertaking, for four seasons. Looking back on it, what are you most proud of having been able to accomplish with this show?
STEPHENS: I think it’s the fact that everybody put everything on the line. Starz really put themselves behind this, financially. The creators really wrote and created such an amazing show. The production standards were amazing. All of the actors turned up, every day, and gave it their all. It’s been such a great ride, in terms of the fact that we’ve made such a complex show that is very satisfying, in so many different ways. It’s a complicated story with complex characters, that takes place against this very complex backdrop of history. It’s been such a great ride.
What do you think you’ll miss most, not just with the experience of making this show, but with getting to live in this guy’s shoes?
STEPHENS: I think I’ll miss the comraderie of it all, with the writers and creators, Jonathan [Steinberg], Robert [Levine] and Dan [Shotz]. I loved working with them and working with their material, and working with all of the actors on set. That really was the most enjoyable stuff, and that’s what makes Flint work. Flint lived within the context of the show. It’s been so brilliant, bringing him to life, in that context and with all of those people helping me to do it.
What can you say about Captain Flint’s story this season and where things are headed for him? Just how dark are things going to get?
STEPHENS: Well, we know that it’s tragedy because the revolution and the emancipation that Flint wants didn’t happen. And Silver ends up being this tragic figure in Treasure Island, who connives his way back to Treasure Island, and then ends up not even getting the treasure at the end of that. And the Golden Age of Piracy ended, so we know that it doesn’t end well. It’s just about, how does it end? This season really is the endgame for all of that. It’s also about the relationship between Silver and Flint, and how that plays out. What happens to Flint, and how does Silver become Long John Silver of Treasure Island?
Do you think that Flint’s goal or quest has changed, at this point?
STEPHENS: The thing about Flint is that he’s playing out his own psycho-drama on a massive canvas. It’s motivated not by altruistic reasons of wanting to emancipate all these people. It’s really that he wants revenge on England for doing what it did to him. What started out as a loose ambition of, “Oh, we’ll just have skirmishes on the edge of it and slap them in the face, once in awhile,” has become something that could possibly actually rock the world. It’s become something that has scale and could be something that compromises England, in a serious way, but that doesn’t happen, for whatever reason. It’s gone from being a dream to something that could be reality, before that reality is smashed, for whatever reason.