Our Flag Means Loss of life debuted in March 2022 to respectable viewership numbers that grew. And grew. And grew some extra. With every week of its 10-episode run, viewership elevated, finally tripling its authentic viewers. The little homosexual pirate office and romantic comedy-cum-historical fantasy that would is again for a second season on Max, and followers might be glad to know that piracy energy couple Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Ed Educate, aka Blackbeard (Academy Award winner Taika Waititi) received’t be parted for lengthy.
The primary season of Our Flag Means Loss of life launched viewers to fictional variations of the true historic figures Stede Bonnet (aka The Gentleman Pirate) and Blackbeard, in addition to their respective crews. The 2 captains immediately cast an unlikely connection. Stede, who determined to exorcize his midlife disaster by abandoning his household and taking to the seas, regardless of being at greatest a piracy novice, hero-worships Blackbeard and is thrilled to make his acquaintance. The fearsome Blackbeard, who amongst pals goes by his actual first title, Ed, is taken with Stede’s dedication to having fun with the finer and frillier issues in life, marveling at his new good friend’s on-ship library and big, stunning wardrobe.
Whereas the 2 captains are an odd couple, every of their crews regards the opposite as a wholly totally different species. Aboard the Revenge, Stede reads bedtime tales to his crew and encourages them to make use of their phrases when conflicts emerge, whereas on Blackbeard’s ship, Ed’s first mate Izzy Fingers (a deliciously scowling, jealous Con O’Neill) rants that his captain is now a shell of the terrifying legend he was once. Over time, Blackbeard’s crew start to understand the more healthy work-life tradition on the Revenge, the place there’s room for romantic and collegial dyads to kind and pair off.
In fact, the trail of real love by no means runs clean even for a pair as invested in one another as Stede and Ed. On the finish of the primary season, the crews are cut up between ships and land, and Ed believes Stede has completely deserted their relationship for his authentic household, inflicting a heartbroken Ed to revert to his fearsome Kraken persona. Because the second season opens, Stede is frantically attempting to get again to Ed and clarify that he’s all in on their relationship. Ed’s habits has been swinging erratically from depressed to murderous, even towards Izzy, and when the 2 captains and crews meet once more, there’s an additional twist: Stede and firm have been co-opted by the way more succesful and profitable Chinese language Pirate Queen, Zheng Yi Sao (Ruibo Qian).
On the eve of the second season’s three-episode premiere, creator and showrunner David Jenkins mirrored on the sequence’ method to office dynamics, male friendships and romance, and the character arcs he’s most excited for followers to see.
The primary three episodes of the season premiere characteristic a bunch of breakups and reshuffling of romantic and work relationships—not simply Stede and Ed. Have been you chasing something specifically, narratively, by splitting up so many dyads?
Positively. To look at the consequences of Stede and Blackbeard’s relationship reverberate by way of everyone’s lives is so fascinating. Their separation doesn’t simply occur to the 2 of them, it’s taking place to all of them, as a result of they’re a household. Simply because the breakup reverberated all through each crews, getting again collectively goes to do the identical factor.
That is smart.
The objective was simply being true to the character beats and discovering methods to make them ring true. Oluwande (Samson Kayo) and Jim (Vico Ortiz, they/them) are pals who acquired romantic. It rang true to me that they’d watch every others’ lives transfer ahead, after which come again collectively to search out that they nonetheless care about one another, and every of them can also be pleased for the opposite particular person. I’ve seen that occur in actual life a bunch of occasions, however I do not see that dramatized so much. I believe there must be loads of totally different flavors of relationships on this present. And there is so many various pairings that you just get loads of probabilities to be like, “Oh, how are these two totally different from Stede and Ed?”
How does that relate to your curiosity in exploring tenderness and vulnerability in male characters? In earlier interviews, you’ve referred to Our Flag Means Loss of life as inspecting the burlesque of masculinity. What does it deliver to your work to be exploring it over the course of many hours of storytelling?
That’s an space the place Taika’s and my pursuits overlap so much. There’s one thing so understated about his sensibility—I believe a few of it derives from his New Zealand accent, really—that fits asking questions on masculinity. And it is enjoyable to have a look at pirate tales, to play towards that style’s whitewashed, heteronormative conventions. Rising up as a man, you get loads of stress to be only one kind of a man, the man who refuses to really feel issues. Males are in horrible bother in that method. We’re getting higher about speaking about emotions, however there’s a lot extra to cowl—physique dysmorphia, vulnerability, not simply speaking about emotions, however understanding them and having this complete vary of feelings—these are all the time the issues I wish to watch.
Do you could have favorites amongst on-screen tales that make room for a broader emotional palette?
Warmth and Midnight Run are two actually pretty Robert De Niro motion pictures the place characters have these very large emotional lives. It’s an analogous factor with Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Child. I like extending that. We are able to push it additional, as a result of there’s so many various methods to be a person! Not the whole lot must be a shoot ’em up motion factor the place folks don’t have emotions. A variety of males really feel like they want permission to only be their bizarre selves, to be humorous, to decorate in a different way. Strive some various things! Perhaps put on a coloration! Put some product in your hair! Don’t fret about it, it is gonna be high quality. You are gonna be high quality.
Our Flag Means Loss of life will not be an off-the-cuff present. It’s very humorous and playful! However there may be not one single body of the present that performs it cool. As an artist, what’s the importance of qualities like sincerity and earnestness?
I hate coolness, it’s so ungenerous. And I like that you just mentioned that it’s not informal. I’m not an off-the-cuff man. It is a deeply uncool present. There’s one thing so particular about seeing comedic actors like Rhys or Taika, who’re so used to coming right into a scene, being extremely humorous and destroying, after which leaving, having to make use of their earnestness, and not utilizing their weapon of instantly diffusing it by going for amusing. After I see that, it makes my coronary heart leap. There’s one thing significantly particular about seeing a comedic actor do it.
It’s actually enjoyable to observe comedic actors dispel the notion that dramatic performing is 180 levels away from comedic performing.
Characters that decision for that kind of efficiency are loads of what I like about Robert Altman, Christopher Visitor, and Harold Ashby motion pictures. They’re comedies, however these characters actually develop and so they expertise ache, and the ache they really feel is actual. After which the humorous shit that they do is even funnier due to it. These are the issues that deliver me essentially the most pleasure.
Inform me about Zheng Yi Sao, the Pirate Queen. She’s such a very good foil for Ed and Stede—her ambition, competence, and management type are all so distinct from theirs.
Zheng Yi Sao is essentially the most competent pirate captain on our present, and was essentially the most profitable pirate captain in historical past. She lived about 100 years aside from these fellas, and he or she was so profitable that China needed to reduce her in and do a treaty along with her so she would transfer on to another subject. She wound up making one other fortune in playing!
One factor that jumped out at me in these first three episodes of the season is how a lot therapy-literate dialogue is used—the place did that come from?
I simply assume it is humorous. The factor a couple of office is that all of them see the whole lot that’s occurring with others, as a result of they’re all on high of one another on a regular basis. I do not wish to go l too far with it, however it’s enjoyable that a few of these characters can see that one in all their pals is in a bizarre relationship along with his boss, after which say “hey, you would possibly wish to take a look at that.”
The place do you assume that comes from for the characters themselves?
There’s a stage of care on that ship that Stede nearly contaminated them with within the first season, and now these concepts are extra alive due to how Stede constructed the Revenge’s tradition. You may see that that spirit continues to be type of alive when Jim tells the story of the wood boy to Bang to calm him down. That’s a bit little bit of Stede’s kindness being alive on the earth nonetheless, and of Jim needing and with the ability to name on it now that the whole lot’s so darkish. For them to go from an “each particular person for themselves” ethos to pondering “there was a time when life meant one thing on this ship, it doesn’t should be this manner” is fascinating development for the character, and is true to Vico as an individual. There’s an actual kindness to how they carry themselves—they’re a type of those who simply makes everyone really feel protected. It’s good to see a few of these character traits bleed by way of to Jim.
With out getting too spoilery, what’s arising over the remainder of this season that you may’t look forward to viewers to see?
I’m actually excited for Izzy’s journey. Con O’Neill did such stunning work, and attending to see the place that character goes and the way he grows, I believe is likely one of the most fun issues of the season. To see the place Ed and Stede’s relationship goes is gratifying—to see how they navigate one another and discover, hopefully, a extra mature method of being collectively.
Jim’s relationships with Archie (Madeleine Sami) and Olu develop, too, and extra broadly, the crew coming collectively as a brand new type of household, now that Mother and Dad are getting again collectively. I additionally like that Lucius (Nathan Foad) is again, and has an offended younger man factor occurring that he has to course of. For Lucius to undergo one thing actually harrowing and should develop up with it’s so fascinating, as a result of he had all of the solutions within the first season.
We are able to’t not speak concerning the mermaid sequence on the finish of the second episode. How did that come about?
We actually have to select our photographs on the present, in order that was very storyboarded out. I knew I wished Kate Bush’s “This Girl’s Work” for the scene, in order that was included in it. Sadly, Rhys had had a very dangerous near-drowning expertise capturing in a tank earlier than, however I didn’t know that till we have been engaged on the stunts! However when Rhys noticed the attractive tail, and it appeared so cool and exquisite, he determined to go for it. He knew the scene was going to look superior. So he navigated that costume, which is principally an enormous flipper that he wanted to maneuver his total core to make it work, and Taika’s there with all this glue to maintain his wig on underwater all day. When it’s buzzing and all of the departments are working, everybody feels protected. It offers everybody a sense of “let’s do it—let’s leap in!”
Talking of leaping in, what diploma of stress did you all really feel coming into the second season, realizing how excessive the expectations have been from the present’s extremely passionate fan base?
I don’t really feel stress from the followers, I simply really feel unconditional love and acceptance, and I believe that the writers room feels that too. All of us need it to be good, and we would like the storylines to be cool. But it surely’s much less stress, and extra simply the extent of freedom that it gave us, realizing any person’s watching. It makes doing all of the laborious work a pleasure, as a result of you realize it’s going to be appreciated. Some folks can have critiques, and that’s high quality.
I simply know that this—the fan response to this present—would be the honor of my profession. The fan neighborhood is so type and good and proficient—it is only a good vibe, and it’s been protected and affirming for everybody.
We’re all basking within the glow of the adoration of the present from our fanbase. It’s infectious—after we all get collectively, it saturates each factor of the present, and it is a very particular factor for all of us.
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