The people at Starz use the word "epic" a lot. Fortunately, they have the shows to back it up. "Black Sails," which returns Saturday (Jan. 23),is a massive series ... and now has added a massive actor who seems to fit. Ray Stevenson is an engaging chap offscreen and a menacing soul onscreen. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
PASADENA -- Ray
Stevenson keeps visiting the supersized characters of movies and TV.
He's been two giant
Marvel men – Volstagg in the “Thor” films and The Punisher in
(logically) “The Punisher.” He's sailed the Mayflower and entered
King Arthur's court.
And now – as
“Black Sails” opens its season – comes maybe the biggest
character of all. “Edward Teach was 6-foot-4,” Stevenson said.
“The guy was a colossus.”
Stevenson, 41, also
happens to be 6-4 and big-bodied, but that seems less colossal
nowadays. Teach lived 200 years ago, building a reputation that gave
him his nickname – Blackbeard.
That makes him ideal
for “Black Sails” now. “(We) wanted someone to come in and turn
(things) upside-down,” said producer Jonathan Steinberg.
The show has merged
real-life pirates (Charles Vane, Anne Bonny) with the fictional ones
(John Silver, Captain Flint) from Robert Louis Stevenson's “Treasure
Island.” It always planned to add Blackbeard, Steinberg said. “It
was a constant process of, 'Is it time yet?'”
Now it is. Vane and
Flint have merged ... Silver has lost his leg ... the pirate island
has become vulnerable ... and Blackbeard can arrive, stirring things
up. He has brief-but-thunderous scenes in the opener Saturday, then
wedges himself into the plot next week.
“I was up for
Blackbeard on (NBC's) 'Crossbones,'” Stevenson said. “Then John
Under Malkovich, the
character was slim and sly; now he returns to his supersized form.
One might assume
Stevenson spent any non-acting years being a bodyguard or a
longshoreman or such. Actually, he was an interior designer.
As a kid in Ireland
and England, he had considered acting, then figured it was out of
reach. He went to art school , worked as a designer, then changed his
mind. At 29, he was finally out of theater school and getting small
roles ... and then bigger ones.
the role of a loyalist in “King Arthur” (2004); the next year, he
starred with Kevin McKidd in “Rome,” playing a character he
loved. “Titus Pullo literally changed my life.”
That's in a career
sense – starring in an epic HBO series – and a personal one. It
was while filming in Italy, Stevenson said, that he met Elisabetta
Caraccia. “She was my landlord; now we have three children.”
She's an anthropologist, which makes her “one of the greatest
people to travel with.”
As it happens, his
job includes lots of travel. “Black Sails” has built sprawling
sets in Capetown, South Africa, including giant ship replicas.
must pretend they're in maritime adventures. “In the storm
sequence, it was pretty easy to do that,” said Toby Stephens, who
plays Flint. “You had, like jet engines propelling water sideways
at us at about one hundred miles an hour. So that didn't take much
This is Stevenson's
second recent maritime tale, after playing a key Mayflower figure in
the “Saints and Sinners” mini-series. “I'm a history nerd ....
I love immersing myself in that sort of period.”
Especially when he's
on a re-created ship from two centuries ago. “They (were) at the
forefront of their technology,” he said. “The rigging on these
big ships is almost as complex as the electrical wiring on a 747. And
they opened the world.”
-- “Black Sails,”
9 p.m. Saturdays, Starz; second season starts Jan. 23
reruns often, including 10:03 and 11:07 p.m. Saturday; 10:35 a.m. and
1:40, 7 and 8:05 p.m. Sunday; 3:05 and 10 p.m. Tuesdays; 3:35 and 9
p.m. Wednesday; 10:40 p.m. Friday (Jan. 29); and 7:55 p.m. Jan. 30,
leading into the second episode.