Perhaps you’ve already watched the first episode of Black Sails online. If not, you can catch the action-packed pirate adventure when it officially premieres Saturday on Starz. Toby Stephens fronts the drama as the enigmatic and charismatic Captain Flint. “Because he’s a pirate captain, he has to be feared by both his men and by people who sail in those waters. He has to cultivate this image, and he does it very carefully,” Stephens says. “The violence is very, very shocking – very real – but it’s designed specifically by him to make people afraid of him. He’s not some sort of brute; it’s actually for political reasons. And I enjoy the way that works.”
He cites the brutal final moments of the first episode, for example: “Captain Flint is on the back foot. His crew is getting [disenchanted] with him. They want to kick him out and get a new captain in, and he’s trying to save his position. So the audience isn’t sure about him,” he says. “I won’t give it away, but the end of it stamps him: You go, ‘That’s why he’s the captain. That’s why he’s the right guy to be running this ship.’”
While Black Sails is all about making the politics of piracy relatable – “We’re trying to make it as present as possible, so they just happen to be wearing these costumes, they just happen to be in a different century,” Stephens says – we discovered Stephens is a bit of an old soul himself when he visited EW. Watch him take our Pop Culture Personality Test below. (Star Wars purists will find it particularly relatable, as the headline implies.)
Black Sails airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.