Interview with Black Sail’s Ray Stevenson


Starz’s Black Sails is only a few weeks away with Season 3. Ray Stevenson plays Blackbeard in the upcoming season. After viewing some of the episodes, I really impressed with his role as Blackbeard so far, giving the character a more cunning and devious approach. His presence is felt strong on screen with his dominance that truly captures Blackbeard, to the point that Teach himself understands his own reputation and drives it forward. We had the opportunity to talk with Ray Stevenson regarding his upcoming role as Blackbeard and a few questions about being a part of the MCU and his take on a new Punisher by Jon Bernthal.

Nerd Reactor (NR): Hello Ray, thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

Ray Stevenson (RS): Delighted.

NR: I just had the opportunity to watch the first 2 episodes of Black Sails, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you as Blackbeard. Were there any challenges going into that role?

RS: Well, there were some practical challenges with the fact that we shoot in Cape Town, in the middle of a South African Summer, and as you can see there is a hell of a lot of hair on that fella and a lot of costume. Just dealing with the practicalities and the heat down there, and everything, but apart from that it’s great, incredibly long hours but it’s an incredibly fulfilling role.

NR: Black Sails takes place in a fictitious world of New Providence. Are we going to see actual events of Edward Teach?

RS: It is based on, a lot of it is based on a sense of, sort of drawing down from history, and although specific dates, names, places may be shifted calendar-wise, but relationships will have you they are drawn on them, also the fictitious relationships which are basically a part of the fabric of Black Sails. It’s a woven piece, so you’ll see stuff but it’s not a historical documentary in any way. But there are definite correlations with historical events.

NR: When taking a role that has a big name like Blackbeard, did you look into previous actors that have done the same role, like Ian McShane in Pirates of the Caribbean, or did they already have a direction set for you?

RS: I didn’t look into other versions of Teach or Blackbeard because each of those were particular to their own dramatization. Teach is probably one of the most documented, historically documented pirate of his age. There is so much writing about him and also from different perspectives. History has been written by victims and the face of journalists, like the Wild West when you get the pamphlets flying back to New York on the East Coast about Billy the Kid and all the gangs, and these are coming back to England about Ye Olde Pirates of the Caribbean and all that with the exploits of Bonny and that. So you take all that with a pinch of salt and then you’ve got to present a side at one point and say alright, alright, it’s not historical sort of thing, and you know enough about the period and then you research the period itself and the world, the America’s of those days, and then you immerse yourself in telling this story and the realization of this drama.

NR: I have a follow-up question to that, a bit sidetracked from Black Sails. I know you’ve done a few Marvel movies like Punisher: Warzone and Thor. What is your take on the new Punisher being done by Jon Bernthal?

RS: I haven’t seen it, to be honest with you. I wish him the very best carrying the torch, in, the Daredevil series is it?  I’m delighted that Frank isn’t being ignored in that universe. When I did Warzone, it was based on the writings of Garth Ennis and the illustrations of Tim Bradstreet, and he’s an extremely violent man doing extremely violent things to extremely violent people and I hope it can translate to a TV series, but the world I immersed myself in was definitely sort of an R-Rated “not for my children” type of world. So we’ll see how it plays out. I wish him nothing but success with it. I think it’s a terrific character, the more you mime it, the more you work with it, the more that character delivers back to you.

NR: Had you not been a part of Thor and they gave you the opportunity to play Frank Castle, would you be up for it?

RS: In a heartbeat. But I don’t think that was being dependent on being a part of Thor. Volstagg is largely different from Frank Castle. Did you think I didn’t get to play Frank Castle because I was playing Volstagg?

NR: Based on how the MCU is built, it probably wouldn’t be ideal for an actor to play multiple roles given that the characters could clash at one point.

RS: I am one of two actors who have been privileged enough to play two principal Marvel characters and that was the decision done by Marvel and they do state that once you play one of their principal characters to retain its integrity to the viewing audience that you don’t get to play another one. But Marvel came back to me and this is Ken Branagh who persuaded them that he wanted to approach me to play Volstagg. But I don’t think the two were interdependent, that after playing Frank Castle if I played Volstagg that I couldn’t play Frank Castle again, I don’t know.

Black Sails returns January 23, 2016 on STARZ

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