5 Fun Facts About Starz’ ‘Black Sails’

Black Sails

Starz’ Black Sails takes place in 1715, the Golden Age of Piracy and brings pirates to life in a different way that we’ve seen before.

During the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter press tour some of cast members including Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold, Zach McGowan, and executive producers Robert Levine, Jonathan Steinberg
and Bradley Fuller took part in a panel to talk about the series.

The series has already aired four episodes and you might already be hooked like I am on the show (and in case you’re not, then you might want to catch up on the series now) and so I thought it would be the perfect time to share 5 fun facts about the series from the panel.

Shooting in Cape Town

It was really hard for them to find the perfect place to shoot the series. Steinberg explained that they were looking for a series of criteria and only a few places had them all. Amongst their criteria, they needed access to a beach, access to a tank, they wanted the cast out of London primarily and needed to be in a place where there was experienced crew. They settled on Cape Town because it was the place where “they got that last box checked.”

Shooting in Cape Town is also the reason Starz renewed the series for a second season before the series premiered. The show needs to be shot in the Summer and Starz didn’t want to wait another year to give the green light for a second season.

Coming Up with the Story

When coming up with the story, Steinberg explained that he was trying to figure out “what people are not doing.” This particular storyline was one that had been stuck in his head in a while. He explained that so far no one had dug into this world and explored the reality of what it was like to wake up in the morning and figure out if you were going to survive. He wanted to have a very different tone than any other pirate stories told before.

Steinberg also shared that he never felt pressure to make the show sexier, but that he wanted it to feel real. He explained that in the absence of a government or any authority, things get violent.


When asked about the women on the show, Steinberg shard that they wanted to explore 3 very different women in this world and how they dealt with the challenges and expectations, and more importantly how they found a way to exist in a world that men ruled.

The Set

Stephens shared that he had a lot of fun on set with Mark Ryan (who plays the character of Gates). He called him “second guy.” He also explained that he likes to have fun on set because it helps him focus when he needs to.


When asked about costumes, Arnold explained that they had to be “functional and practical.” They wanted to make them authentic.

Stephens also added that it was important for him that their clothes were clothes that they wear. They should be dirty and smell. He didn’t want them to pose as pirates, but for them to be real pirates.

Black Sails airs on Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.

Follow me on Twitter @sosandrine and Facebook