'Black Sails' Toby Stephens: 'Pirate captains have to be feared'

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Zap2it: The captain of a pirate ship must define tough guy. How do you perceive your character in "Black Sails"?

Toby Stephens: It's about survival, and if you were a pirate captain, you had to be feared. They had to develop their own PR. You had to be this scary figure because otherwise you would be gobbled up by your crew or the next merchant ship that attacked. There is that underneath. And I think he's got this anger, and that is driving him as well.

Zap2it: Were you schooled in pirate lore?

Toby Stephens: I really knew very little, and I knew there was a golden age of piracy in terms of the Caribbean and Bermuda and the Bahamas. That only lasted a very short period of time, and it was initially encouraged by Britain because it interrupted French and Spanish trade. It was in our interest. I didn't really know the details. I didn't know beyond that. What I knew was what I had seen in movies or read in books about the mythology, rather like Arthurian mythology, which developed in the 1800s.

Zap2it: What about these stories captured you?

Toby Stephens: You know you are going to go into battle as you are catching up with that ship. They know they are going to have to (attack the ship) and that sense of danger. I had never seen that before. It was always people swinging on ropes and romanticized, so I didn't know anything about the nitty-gritty about piracy.
Photo/Video credit: Starz