Black Sails mixes characters from Treasure Island and the real history of pirates. One of the real historical pirates is Anne Bonny, played by Clara Paget. We’ve seen her ruthlessly rise up and partner with Rackham (Toby Schmitz). Now it’s time to see what they do with all that gold.
We got to sit down with Paget to talk about her role as the kickass, badass female pirate Anne Bonny. Starz had a Black Sails panel for the Television Critics Association, and afterwards Paget gave us an interview, her hair still bright red as she’s filming season four. Black Sails airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.
What’s going on with Anne this year?
Clara Paget: Well, you know, she’s been going through this whole turmoil in season two exploring who she is, on top of then getting the gold which was almost an afterthought considering everything she was going through in season two. So season three, we’re going to see the repercussions of both of those things.
How has that been for you to play?
I’m so grateful because I get to explore this character who everyone’s been intrigued about. What’s she going to say? How does she feel about everything? It’s been tough as well because you want to be true to her and keep her same quiet badass attitude at the same time as portraying her being young and weak and exploring herself.
Could you have ever expected it to go this way when you started Black Sails?
I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I think we’re really lucky as a cast to be able to explore these things with our writers.
How much of this is in the history books?
Very little really because there’s very little facts about the pirates really, especially about Anne Bonny. Obviously I went and did all the research. She had red hair. That was one of the things documented. So I’m a blonde girl and they had to dye my hair. I had no choice about that. Other than that, we had a lot of artistic license because there’s lots of stories, but they’re not facts.
Do you have any cool action in the new season?
Yeah, I do and that’s my favorite part about doing this show. I get to learn how to fight and do stunts and work with some of the best stunt coordinators in the world.
Are you ever jealous of what the stuntmen get to do?
I don’t let them. [Laughs] There is that thing of obviously if there’s something very dangerous, that you can’t do it yourself. I know personally I try and do as much as I can myself.
What research did you do on Anne Bonny?
I read all the things there are to read about her, but going back to my original point, none of them are really facts. We got to explore and create these characters ourselves drawing on those things, but creating our own as well.
What have you been most proud of creating for Anne?
I suppose the hat. That came completely organically. I tried on this hat and then I was pulling it down in an almost jokey way, like an old school western. Then it became who she is, hiding behind this hat. It really works for the character because, as I said, it shows this vulnerable side at the same time as being badass through one side or the other. Like schizophrenic, bipolar.
Does she connect with Vane this season?
There might be a little bit of that. I think this season’s interesting because as you see in the end of season two, all these people who are against each other are now coming together. It’s kind of us against them with the new world invading. It’s naturally come together. It changes as well. There’s power shifts.
Have you ever felt completely separate from the other stories going on on the show?
Absolutely. I don’t mind that as well. When I watch the show, I think Rackham makes me look good because he’s such a fantastic actor and he’s got this real comic value. So there’s this almost comic relief for the audience I feel sometimes when we see them together having a genuine bicker, like a normal relationship.
Will you miss that if Anne separates from him?
Yeah, I think their love is unconditional and we see that at the end of season two when they say, “We’re going to be partners until we’re in the ground if you feel the same.” He does feel the same. They’re best friends. They’re brother and sister. They’re lovers. They’re everything. It’s unconditional.
What do you hope for season four?
Who knows? A gold tooth.
Would you like to get all Jack Sparrowed up?
I think I give him a run for his money already.
Have you ever tried the dreadlocks?
I’ve had dreadlocks. I’ve had accidental dreadlocks. I cut them out when I was a kid. I was a little tomboy running around and climbing on the climbing frame. I was constantly getting dreadlocks. That’s no new thing.
Were you ever a pirate fan as a tomboy?
Yeah, I liked Treasure Island a lot as a kid. It was really funny, I explored it again and I did the audio books. Me and my boyfriend would just listen to them in bed like an old couple, which is quite fun actually.
What have been your favorite scenes to do on Black Sails so far?
Exploring Anne, her emotional side. When she puts the dress on in season two and she has this kind of Lynch-esque out of body experience, it’s like she’s tripping. She suddenly doesn’t know who she is. That was very cool to play. Any fight scene that I have, I adore. Getting to just be part of this male world and be on par with the guys. Anne doesn’t have a hell of a lot of lines. It’s more about having to portray these emotions through her eyes, or one eye under the hat.
Do you ever get used to being on the boats?
I get a little seasick. A trick you do is sway yourself. So imagine when you were a kid and you spin around, doing that for hours on end. You get a little seasick. You spend hours on end on that ship and it’s boiling hot. You’re against the elements. If you’re in the studio, you’ve got the smoke going all around you. If you’re outside you’re getting sunburned and you can’t wear sunglasses so your retinas are getting burned. I don’t even complain about that though because something about me goes method and I just kind of go, “Give it to me.”
Do you have the outline of your costume burned on your skin?
She’s so covered up. I actually had somebody in the Middle East Comic-Con dress as Bonny because you can completely cover up as her.