“Black Sails” premiered Saturday (Jan. 25) on Starz, kicking off a pirate adventure as these sailors of the high seas search for treasure in an elusive Spanish galleon.
But pirates are not all viewers encounter on and around the island of New Providence. Hannah New is Eleanor Guthrie, who basically runs the island and who New says she was excited to play because Eleanor is “a proper ball-breaker.”
As viewers will see in the first couple episodes, Eleanor has an on-going relationship with Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and there are references to Eleanor’s previous relationship with Charles Vane (Zach McGowan). New says that the show hasn’t felt the need to define Eleanor’s sexuality, though it does play an important role in her life on the island.
“Obviously we define the specific relationship between the two people, but I don’t think the show in any way defines sexuality or defines the notion of what it means to be gay,” New tells Zap2it. “There’s a fluidity with gender and sexuality, it’s a really forward way of representing sexuality in a TV show because we’re so used to having these dichotomies of you’re either gay or straight. None of that really applies, you can’t label characters in that way.”
“Eleanor has her political and economic way that she can influence things [on the island], but she there’s her sexuality as well,” New continues. “It’s fascinating. The more I learn about Eleanor, the more I’m falling in love with her and the more I despair at how erroneous some of her decisions are sometimes.”
New also tells Zap2it that Eleanor’s political and economic influences are her top priority and in keeping those going, she feels very much alone. But running the island is always Eleanor’s top priority, which sometimes means she sacrifices her personal relationships.
“I think she’s a woman who’s been incredibly abandoned throughout her life and dealt with so many scary and violent and harrowing experiences that have left her kind of having to survive as this lone entity,” says New. “When we first meet Eleanor, she has two main resources of counsel and security, which are Max and Scott (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), and I think she very quickly loses both of them and finds herself alone again.
“She has a fall from grace so quickly and so hard, how does she find the strength to keep everything together and hold this business together and strive for an ideal? She’s a visionary and she’s an idealist, so her main drive and
motivation goes beyond herself. “I think that’s why she
subjugates her sexual desires and needs and her emotional desires and
needs for what she feels is a very important cause.”
Eleanor’s drive is part of what makes her character so challenging for New because there is a lot at stake, especially because Eleanor is a woman.
“Playing a character like that is so challenging. You have to really take in what’s at stake and the stakes are really high, the stakes are really high for women. They’re constantly under the threat of violence and how do women deal with the threat of violence? What resources do they have at hand in order to control these men and make sure that they are in a position of safety?” says New.
As viewers will come to find out, women aren’t always going to be in positions of safety in this male-dominated, law-of-the-jungle world.
What did you think of “Black Sails”? Are you on board with this swashbuckling new drama?